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bpas comment on Northern Ireland abortion statistics

The Department of Health (DoH) in Northern Ireland has today published statistics relating to medical abortions and terminations of pregnancy during 2015/16.

A bpas spokesperson said:

“The number of abortions performed in Northern Ireland continues to stand at a record low. Just 16 abortions were performed in Northern Ireland in 2015/16. Together with the previous year, this represents the lowest number on record. The figures released today also show that the number of terminations has more than halved over the past 5 years, with 43 terminations performed in 2010/11.

“It is no coincidence that the number of terminations performed in Northern Ireland has plummeted at the same time as we have seen a sharp increase in criminal prosecutions for violations of the  abortion law. Over the last 12 months alone, three women have been taken through the courts, with one handed a 3-month suspended prison sentence. This rise in prosecutions has had a significant chilling affect on the medical community, and doctors now feel unable  to sanction terminations - even in the limited circumstances permitted under Northern Ireland’s strict abortion law - for fear of prosecution. Consequently, women who may have previously been granted a termination in Northern Ireland are now being forced to travel England to access the care they need, at a huge financial and emotional cost. There is also evidence that women are increasingly resorting to buying abortion medication online, illegally, because they are unable to access treatment.

“In 2015, 833 women from Northern Ireland were forced to journey to England for abortion care. These are women who are resident in the UK, paying UK taxes, yet unlike women from England, Scotland, and Wales, they are not currently entitled to NHS-funded treatment, and must meet the cost themselves. It appears extremely unlikely that we will see abortion reform in Northern Ireland in the near future, due to the collapse of the last Executive. As we wait for women in Northern Ireland to be able to access the care they need at home, we call on policymakers in England to follow Nicola Sturgeon’s lead and consider allowing these women to receive NHS-funded care here.

“Trump’s Global Gag Rule – and the potential restrictions to abortion globally – has rightly met with widespread condemnation. Yet we must not forget that there are women in the UK for whom the denial of safe, legal, and funded abortion care is already the reality.”

ENDS

For more information please contact the bpas press office on 0207 061 3377, 07788 725185 or press@bpas.org

Notes to Editors:

The report, Northern Ireland Termination of Pregnancy Statistics 2015/16, is available online here.

About bpas

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, bpas, is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at www.bpas.org