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Northern Ireland: urgent appeal for home abortions during COVID-19 crisis

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Amnesty International launches appeal calling on Northern Ireland Secretary of State to allow women to take abortion pills at home during pandemic

With travel unsafe, measures already introduced in England, Scotland and Wales

“We cannot be left without abortion services. This is unfair, dangerous and is putting women and girls at risk’ – Grainne Teggart

Amnesty International is launching an urgent appeal to the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis MP, today, calling for emergency provisions to allow women in Northern Ireland to be able to self-manage abortions at home during the COVID-19 crisis.

With the coronavirus emergency meaning that travelling for an abortion is neither a safe nor viable option, measures to allow women and girls to take both abortion pills at home are already in place in the rest of the UK to help them safely self-manage abortions. 

Despite long-awaited new abortion regulations coming into force in Northern Ireland on 31 March, services have not yet been commissioned and - unlike in England, Scotland and Wales - the region has not been granted the provision for women and girls to be able to take both abortion pills at home.

Warning that the current situation will have dangerous consequences for those experiencing crisis pregnancies during the pandemic, Amnesty has today launched an urgent appeal to Brandon Lewis to amend the new abortion regulations so they include provision for a telemedicine service.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International UK’s Northern Ireland campaign manager, said:

“The Northern Ireland Executive has failed women and girls facing crisis pregnancy during the current pandemic by not giving them the option to safely self-manage abortions at home.  This is hugely disappointing and insulting.

“All other regions in the UK now have this provision in place because it’s the safe and right thing to do during the current health emergency. The Government’s own advice is to stay at home. It’s simply not safe or viable to travel.

“We cannot be left behind without abortion services. This is unfair, dangerous and is putting women and girls at risk.

“We urgently need the Northern Ireland Office to stand by people here and to once again do what our devolved Government has failed to do.”

Abortion pills 

Current rules in Northern Ireland require women to take the first of two abortion pills in a health and social care premisies, therefore requiring them to travel for the health service. New measures that have been introduced in England mean women will be sent both pills required for an early termination, following a telephone or online consultation with a doctor. 

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