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RCOG supports removal of NHS-funded abortion ban for Northern Irish women

News 28 June 2017

Today, over 40 cross-party policymakers have signed a letter supported by sexual health charity FPA, BPAS, the Royal College of Midwives, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, calling on the Secretary of State for Health to remove the ban on NHS-funded abortion for women travelling from Northern Ireland.

This follows a narrowly-defeated appeal at the Supreme Court earlier this month challenging the existing policy. However, the Court did make it clear that the Secretary of State holds the power to end the current discriminatory two-tier system, which denies services to women in Northern Ireland that are freely available in the rest of the UK.

That’s why over 40 Members of Parliament (MPs), Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and peers have called for change. While continuing the campaign for change within Northern Ireland, these politicians are calling on Jeremy Hunt MP to use his unique ability to reduce the financial strain on women who are prevented from accessing abortion services at home.

Updated 30 June 2016

Commenting on the government announcement that they will fund abortions for women from Northern Ireland travelling to England, Professor Lesley Regan, President of The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said:

“I am delighted with the government's decision. However, while this is a very important step forward, it is still unacceptable for Northern Irish women to travel to one of the other three nations of the UK to access abortion care services. Every woman, regardless of where she lives, should have free and equal access to abortion care services.

“This government has a unique opportunity to address issues relating to abortion care in Northern Ireland. Access to abortion care saves women's lives, and therefore improves the life chances and wellbeing of their children and families, as well as society as a whole."

Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:

“The Government has made the right and ethical decision to extend access to abortion services in England to women who live in Northern Ireland. This is a major step towards realising women’s sexual and reproductive health rights across the UK. 

"The Government must now focus on guaranteeing other reproductive rights, especially access to high quality contraception services.”

ENDS 

Note to Editors

For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)20 7045 6773 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk

About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.

About FSRH
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members, to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes The Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care. For more information please visit: www.fsrh.org