Clare Bailey MLA

Clare Bailey MLA welcomes Scottish abortion move but warns that barriers remain

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Green Party MLA Clare Bailey has welcomed the provision by Scotland of free abortion for women who travel from Northern Ireland, but has warned that major barriers to access will still stand in their way.

New regulations allowing women from Northern Ireland to access abortion services in Scotland came into force on Monday.

Women from Northern Ireland usually need to access surgical abortions when they travel to the UK, but this is a one-day procedure and women can usually travel home again afterwards.

However, under Scottish rules, women will have to stay for a number of days, during which time they will have to pay for their own accommodation.

“Under the new rules, women will be able to travel to Scotland –at their own expense – and present themselves to a clinic,” the South Belfast MLA said.

“The clinic can refer them to an NHS hospital for abortion assessment services and if they are approved for treatment they will be given the first set of medical abortion pills on the premises. The second set will be prescribed 24 or 48 hours later, or longer.

“Scotland recently changed the law on abortion pills to allow women to take them at home, but this only applies to women who reside in Scotland.”

The South Belfast MLA said the provision of abortion by Scotland to women in Northern Ireland is welcome, but may not be of much practical use due to the barriers to access that remain.

“What would be more helpful to women from Northern Ireland would be a comprehensive whole-care pathway service similar to that put in place by Justine Greening, the UK Minister for Women and Equalities, and I hope that Scotland can look at these issues again.

“These proposals also raise the question of why Scottish women are not given the same healthcare access as women in England,” the MLA said.

 

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Linda Stewart

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