In recent days, the British Government alongside the Scottish and Welsh Governments have indicated they are going to allow women to take both abortion pills at home in response to pressure from lobby groups. These groups argue that this change is necessary due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Previously in Great Britain, abortions could only occur in NHS hospitals and private abortion clinics approved by the Secretary of State. Women take the first pill, mifepristone, at an abortion clinic or hospital, and then take the second pill, misoprostol, later at home, following the law change in January last year.
However, under this new policy abortion pills can be prescribed by a doctor over the phone or on a video call. The pills will then be sent to women at home, a process known as 'telemedicine'. Women will have to take both pills, unsupervised, and then have the abortion at home.
Push to change law in NI
Lobby groups seeking widespread access to abortion in Northern Ireland have been seeking to apply pressure on the Health Minister to see him introduce similar changes here.
This morning at the Health Committee, in response to a question from a Committee member the Minister indicated he will be presenting a paper to the Executive tomorrow on a number of options in relation to this. It will then be for the Northern Ireland Executive to decide whether to introduce this change.
We at CARE NI believe this would be the wrong step to take. We believe abortion not only ends a unique, unrepeatable human life but is also damaging for women. We recognise the very difficult reality many face at the current time with the coronavirus pandemic. However, we simply do not view abortion as the compassionate response. You can read more of CARE's concerns outlined when the policy was introduced in Britain earlier this week, and why this policy raises serious issues around women's safety.
At the current time we continue to ask you to contact your MLAs in opposition to the new regulatory framework. It is vital the Assembly gets to debate this issue and have its say. You can do so here. You may wish to hold our Executive ministers in prayer in the coming days as they continue to lead NI’s response to the coronoavirus pandemic and the question about telemedicine abortions.