Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Northern Ireland resists pro-abortion pressure

Life | Telemedicine abortions expand in the rest of the United Kingdom
by Leah Hickman
Posted 10/26/20, 12:35 pm

Pro-abortion groups are using the pandemic to pressure Northern Ireland into loosening its protections for mothers and babies.

In March, the office of the health secretary in England announced it would allow women to obtain abortion pills through telemedicine and self-administer the drug at home during the pandemic. Scotland, Wales, and the Republic of Ireland have made similar changes. But the religiously conservative Northern Ireland has so far refused to provide remote abortion services.

Northern Ireland's law protected babies from abortion until October 2019, when the U.K. Parliament imposed an amendment that legalized the procedure. Pro-abortion groups celebrated the anniversary of the new law on Wednesday but bemoaned how difficult it was to abort a baby. Some medical providers implemented services slowly when the law took effect, and others had to stop carrying out abortions due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“The health minister needs to urgently step up and take action, including commissioning full and accessible services and introducing telemedicine,” said Grainne Teggart, the manager for Amnesty International UK’s Northern Ireland campaign.

Last month, the Northern Ireland pro-abortion organization Alliance for Choice hosted an online workshop on self-managed abortions. “The home use of abortion pills following consultation with a medical professional is safe, and it is healthcare that should be commissioned by the Department of Health in [Northern Ireland] following the regulations,” the organization said in an email explaining the event.

But the Northern Ireland Department of Health sees the dangers of enabling women to self-administer the abortion pill. “Women are at risk if they access unregulated abortion services,” the department told the News Letter in response to the workshop. “The department’s view is that services should be properly delivered through direct medical supervision within the health and social care system.” Under current law, women must take the first of the two abortion pills at a medical facility after a consultation. They may take the second pill at home.

In England, relaxed protections have led to abuse of the drug and have harmed women. Reports of women taking abortion pills too late in their pregnancies have led to police investigations. Leaked May 2020 emails from the National Health Service said two women died after taking the drugs. “Ever since the U.K. government permitted ‘DIY’ home abortions, stories of illegal late-term abortions and safety abuses have come to light,” said Catherine Robinson, a spokeswoman for Right to Life UK. “These 13 ongoing investigations are likely only the tip of the iceberg.


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Leah Hickman

Leah is a reporter for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Hillsdale College graduate. Leah resides in Cleveland, Ohio. Follow her on Twitter @leahmhickman.

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