The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has advised the Department of Health and NI Executive to take immediate steps to ensure that women and girls have access to termination of pregnancy services.

The call is being made as the Minister considers the implementation of the new Northern Ireland abortion law in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has restricted access to services elsewhere in the United Kingdom and Ireland. This is putting the lives of women and girls at unnecessary risk.

Chief Commissioner Les Allamby, pictured above, said; “Time is not something that women and girls requiring access to abortion services have. The reduction of flights and other forms of transport to combat the spread of Covid-19 means that healthcare services available in other parts of the UK are no longer practically available. Women and clinicians should receive clear guidance as to how to proceed in the circumstances we find ourselves in. This has already happened in the rest of the UK.

“Lives are being put at unnecessary risk. Women who cannot yet get access to vital services here and cannot travel because of the Covid-19 travel restrictions may end up relying on dangerous alternatives.

“The Department of Health and NI Executive must follow the emergency provision that has been made elsewhere in the UK, allow the services already prepared by some health and social care trusts to be introduced and issue guidance to clinicians about arrangements during the crisis period.”

Mr Allamby added: “At the same time women and girls must be guaranteed access where necessary and appropriate in a clinical setting throughout NI.”

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