Almost two years after the Abortion Reform Act 2019 came into being , the Tynwald Social Affairs Policy Review Committee (SAPRC) is finally asking for feedback from service users.
But, since the provisions of the Act came into place in May 2019, CALM (Campaign for Abortion Law Modernisation) has heard from people
- who have been unnecessarily referred to clinics in the UK, not to the IOM Abortion Service
- who have been told they have to pay for travel, for accommodation and for the termination (none of which is true)
- who have been sent for unnecessary scans, delaying the procedure
- whose appointments have been so delayed that an early termination, which could have been carried out on-Island, had gone beyond the (arbitrary and not backed by evidence) 10 week limit. This meant travel to the UK during this pandemic, self-isolation on their return and further avoidable stress and stigma
- And just as shockingly, CALM has heard from people who had no idea that abortion is now free, legal and accessible in the Isle of Man and has been since May 2019.
CALM knows that a number of MHKs and MLCs – including Dr Alex Allinson MHK, who sponsored the Bill through the House of Keys – have been pushing for this review, initially promised for May 2020, to ensure that all the provisions of the Act were being met. Back in June 2020 Dr Allinson wrote to Julie Edge MHK, chair of the SAPRC ( you can read his letter here https://bit.ly/3rEFIxM) and it has taken this long for the Committee to respond as follows:
“The Social Affairs Policy Review Committee would like to hear from members of the public on issues relating to the Abortion Reform Act 2019”.
CALM would like to point out that the Abortion Reform Act 2019 is on the statute books. The provisions of the Act are there, but sadly little known. Only now is the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee asking for feedback from those who have used the service.
We knew that getting the Act signed was only the beginning – the services in the Act also had to be provided. Amongst other things GPs and practice nurses had to be informed, the public had to know it was a self-referral service and how to find it, and pre- and post-abortion counselling had to be available for those who wanted it.
So where does the blame lie? Some of it must surely be laid at the feet of the Department of Health and Social Care which hasn’t publicised the service widely to its staff or made the telephone number (01624 642521) readily available. A CALM supporter even had a meeting with the Health Minister last year when she was assured that the service was being actively advertised, but leaflets are yet to be available in GP surgeries. And the Department cannot hide behind Covid – this shambles has been going on since the middle of 2019.
This ‘call for evidence’ from the SAPRC is a belated attempt to remedy this – so CALM is now asking anyone who has used – or attempted to use – the Isle of Man Abortion Service to write to the Committee before 5pm on Wednesday 7 April at firstname.lastname@example.org
CALM urges anyone who has experience of the service – good, bad or indifferent – to respond to the Committee by the date above. This is an opportunity for those with real experience to make their feelings known, and to make sure that the Committee does not become a sounding board for anti-choice activists to make their failed case once again.
The committee will not publish any written submission relating to an individual case without the consent of the individual concerned. The Committee may, however, publish written evidence relating to policy matters.
The link to the SAPRC media release is here. https://www.tynwald.org.im/about/news/Pages/2110.aspx