GP visits for abortion care to take place remotely
The measures come amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
By Clodagh Meaney
The Department of Health has announced that GP visits for people who wish to access abortion care will now take place remotely.
Current guidelines require pregnant people to attend two GP visits three days apart before undergoing an early medical abortion.
The first consultation is to determine how long the patient is pregnant.
When the pregnant person is less than 9 weeks and 6 days pregnant during their second visit abortion medication along with instructions on how to administer them two days apart are issued.
If a person is 10 - 12 weeks pregnant they will be referred to a hospital following their first consultation where they will follow further instructions issued by the doctor there.
A third remote follow-up appointment, post-abortion is also optional and can be held remotely.
The guidelines, released yesterday evening state: "In the current situation, where the need for social distancing, reducing personal contacts and reducing the burden on medical practitioners are paramount, it may not be possible or advisable for a woman to attend a medical practitioner in person to access termination in early pregnancy."
The remote consultations can take place via either phone or video, and in some cases a doctor may deem a visit in person to be necessary, however guidelines say these "should be kept to a minimum during the COVID-19 public health emergency".
"Arrangements must be made for collection of medications, low-sensitivity pregnancy test, any prescriptions and the written information set out above."
“Collection is also permitted by a nominated individual or courier. Where a nominated person is collecting the medication, his/her details should be provided by the patient in advance so they can be recorded and verified when medications are supplied."