The Campaign for Abortion Law Modernisation (CALM) is concerned that the recent suspension of some surgical abortion procedures at Marie Stopes clinics across the UK means that local women have even less choice.
After inspections of some Marie Stopes clinics by officials from the Care Quality Commission, all surgical abortions involving general
anaesthetic or conscious sedation have been voluntarily suspended.
Terminations involving local anaesthetic or non-surgical terminations are not affected.
CALM spokesman Sam Morris said:
“The majority of women in the Isle of Man seeking an abortion have surgical abortions – 84% of them, against just 50% in the UK. There are a number of reasons for this, but the law as it stands here means that women have to find the money to travel and stay across, and because clinics need to be sure that the procedure is complete before allowing women to travel back to the Island, a surgical termination is usually advised. To put it bluntly,” Sam continues, “a surgical abortion under general anaesthetic – which has its own risks - has fewer immediate side effects than taking tablets, which can cause a women to suffer excruciating pain and bleeding in the airport, on the plane, or on the boat.”
During the run up to the general election in September, CALM is continuing to bring the outdated, divisive and discriminatory Termination of Pregnancy (Medical Defences) Act 1995 to the attention of candidates in the hope that it will be debated and revised by the next Government.
“It isn’t right that women in the Isle of Man have to make decisions about their bodies based on available funds, rather than what is best medical practice,” says Sam. “Last year 105 women giving Isle of Man addresses paid for terminations which, in England, Scotland and Wales, are available on the National Health. These women had to find the money from their own purses, borrow from family or friends or even arrange bank loans. We want this to stop.”
Data is not available about how many of these terminations were carried out at Marie Stopes’s clinics, but the fact that they are currently not available there means that women travelling from the Isle of Man now just have one choice, the British Pregnancy Advice Service clinics. But there could be another alternative:
“Currently women wanting an abortion, but who don’t fit into the very narrow parameters of the 1995 Act, can either pay to go across or buy safe, but illegal, pills off the internet,” says Sam. “If a woman does the latter, and the pills are intercepted by the Post Office, she could be prosecuted and face up to two years in prison. If, however, an enlightened new government was to investigate the possibility of local GPs and a dedicated clinic service prescribing the pills legally, a women could avoid travelling to have an incomplete medical abortion across, avoid the financial outlay and be looked after in her own home.”
“I can’t second-guess the future House of Keys,” continues Sam, “but there is no doubt that the recent Marie Stopes’ decision has made it more difficult for local women. I urge voters to ask what their local candidates’ views are, and keep the Campaign for Abortion Law Modernisation in the spotlight. The Island’s women deserve a real choice.”
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