Clare Murphy, Chief Executive of BPAS, said:
"We welcome the passing of these regulations which empower the Secretary of State to direct local bodies in Northern Ireland to commission abortion services. During the pandemic, women and girls have been forced to make the physically and emotionally arduous journey to England to access abortion care, even though abortion has now been decriminalised in Northern Ireland for over 2 years. The women and girls of Northern Ireland cannot wait any longer. The Secretary of State must use these new powers as a matter of urgency to ensure access to safe and effective abortion care, including via telemedicine.
"At the start of the pandemic, Ministers in England, Scotland, and Wales granted temporary permission for women to receive early medical abortion treatment by post following a telemedical consultation. This has allowed women to end pregnancies from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. Waiting times have also fallen, enabling women to end pregnancies at the earliest possible gestation. As the governments in England, Scotland, and Wales consider extending permission for telemedicine beyond the pandemic, it is only right that the Secretary of State considers granting the same permission to clinicians in Northern Ireland. Women across the UK must be able to access safe, legal, local abortion care, whether they are resident in Belfast or Birmingham."
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BPAS is a charity that sees almost 100,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice.
BPAS also runs the Centre for Reproductive Research and Communication, which seeks to develop and deliver a research agenda that furthers women’s access to evidence-based reproductive healthcare, driven by an understanding of women’s perspectives and needs. You can find out more here.
BPAS intends to launch a not-for-profit fertility service in 2021, to provide ethical, evidence-based, person-centred care that supports patients. We intend to only charge what it costs to provide a safe, high-quality, and accessible service to patients who may be unable to access NHS-funded care.