Don’t use mental health to justify abortion law change, warn psychiatrists

A group of consultant psychiatrists have criticised the Government for presenting abortion as “treatment” for mental health issues.

In a letter written ahead of the May 25 referendum on repealing the eighth amendment, the group of 26 psychiatrists said it was “dishonest” to justify a change in the law as healthcare.

The letter said: “Given the experience in the UK, we can confidently say that abortions taking place in this country after 12 weeks will be authorised under the mental health ground.

“As in the UK, there will be little or no justification for this in the great majority of cases. We do not want to see spurious appeals to ‘mental health’ being used to justify post-12-week abortions.”

It added: “To use ‘health’ as a justification for abortion, when the vast majority of abortions do not take place on any kind of health ground, inverts the true purpose of medicine and doctors who value their calling should have nothing to do with this.”

The proposed abortion law in Ireland would see abortion allowed up until 12 weeks and allowed in exceptional cases between 12 and 24 weeks.

The psychiatrists said they believed mental health grounds would be used to justify abortion after 12 weeks.

Prof Patricia Casey addresses the media in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Speaking at a press conference today, Professor Patricia Casey said there was no evidence to show abortion reduced mental health risks.

She said: “There is no evidence that abortion is necessary for women’s mental health, because it doesn’t have any impact on women’s mental health in terms of preventing mental health problems.”

Prof. Casey said she had refused to take part in the Oireachtas committee on abortion because she felt it was “clearly biased”.

She said: “I have absolutely no doubt that I would have been ignored.”

- Press Association

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