Women in Northern Ireland must have access to safe, reliable healthcare

7 Apr 2020

Publication cover - TU Abortion Report Oct9_Final_Edit Cover image for TU Abortion Report Oct9_Final_Edit

The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is concerned at reports that women in Northern Ireland are unable to access urgent abortion healthcare, despite the fact that new laws legalising abortion in Northern Ireland were brought into force at the end of March 2020.

The delivery framework however has yet to be put in place and until this happens, the UK Government has indicated that women who require abortions will be able to travel to England for treatment.

“NIC-ICTU has written to the Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann to highlight our grave concern at the current situation”, said Clare Moore, ICTU Equality Officer.

“The Government has indicated that travel for healthcare is regarded as essential and therefore is exempt from restrictions during the current crisis. However, the reality is that given the number of airlines which have grounded flights, travelling to England is virtually impossible at the moment. This is not to mention that women who require abortion healthcare may be extremely vulnerable and anxious and travelling during a pandemic would only add to their anxiety.

“We understand that arrangements have already been put in place in other parts of the UK to facilitate women to have access to abortion healthcare via telemedicine. This would mean that women would be able to access the professional healthcare they require and would be able to administer safe and reliable medication in their own homes without the need for unnecessary travel which could be dangerous for the women and potentially for their families and healthcare professionals. 

“Not putting in place these arrangements is also placing an extra burden on the health service  when this could be avoided through the provision of telemedicine.

“We have asked the Health Minister to listen to the healthcare professionals on this matter and ensure that women in Northern Ireland have access to the safe, reliable healthcare that they urgently require.”