Scottish Government opens the door to women from Northern Ireland to have abortions in Scotland

The Scottish Government has laid a statutory instrument before Parliament which empowers Scottish NHS Boards to provide free abortion services to women from Northern Ireland. The instrument, which has been introduced via negative procedure, will come into force on November 6th.

Jeremy Balfour MSP raised a motion to annul the instrument on the ground of costs, but this was later withdrawn after the Health and Sport Committee heard evidence from Aileen Campbell, Minister for Public Health and Sport.

The statutory instrument will now become law on 6th November and women from Northern Ireland will be able to have free abortions in Scotland.

The Government also announced that some women from Northern Ireland will be allowed to take the second abortion pill, misoprostol, at home. This drug is to be withdrawn from the French market after ‘a number of reports of serious side-effects from off-label use of the drug to induce childbirth and medical abortions’, as reported in The Lancet. The drug is normally taken at a clinic where clinical support, including counselling, is readily available.

These moves are being made despite a recent ComRes poll finding that 60% of people in the UK, including 70% of women, want to see the abortion time limit of 24 weeks reduced. The poll also found that 82% of Scots would like to see a statutory waiting period introduced after a consultation and before an abortion takes place and that over half of Scottish respondents do not believe that doctors (61%) or pharmacists (51%) should be compelled to participate in abortion procedures.

The Bishops of Scotland and England & Wales recently released a statement on abortion, to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Abortion Act 1967. In it the Bishops thanked pro-life politicians for their commitment to protecting human life from the moment of conception and urged them to continue to seek reform of current abortion legislation. They also encouraged ‘people, of religious faith and none, who have sought to protect unborn life and the life of the mother over the last fifty years.’

The recent moves by the Scottish Government show a continued disregard for the dignity of human life in the womb and disregard for the damage abortion can do to women. You can contact your local MSPs via this link to express concerns about:

  • continued disregard for the right to life of unborn babies in the womb;
  • disregard for the health and wellbeing of women wounded by abortion;
  • failing to listen to the public who want greater restrictions around the provision of abortion;
  • undermining the democratic order and disrespecting the law of Northern Ireland where abortion is illegal except in exceptional circumstances; and
  • allowing women to take abortion pills at home without clinical support.

Please let us know if you do write to your MSP by leaving a comment, below.