Figures released this week by the UK Government Department of Health show that 95 women travelled from the Isle of Man to England or Wales for terminations in 2018 – the year during which the Isle of Man Abortion Reform Bill (now Act) was going through the legislative process and being debated in numerous sittings of the House of Keys and Legislative Council.
These 95 women are among the last to be affected by the draconian 1995 Termination of Pregnancy (Medical Defences) Act which has now been repealed, but we know that more will have used family or friends’ UK addresses, or bought safe but illegal pills online and carried out their own abortions without the knowledge or support of their doctor.
For all of those 95 women (and the ones not included in these figures), and for everyone involved in our campaign, the often unnecessarily drawn-out debates were frustrating to listen to. With the publication of these figures, CALM would like to think that Members of Tynwald will now be more aware that the legislation they are debating week after week affects the real lives of real people.
Our views on the exhaustive, detailed debates – and the delaying tactics of some Members of the House of Keys, and the Legislative Council – are well documented elsewhere on this website. However, the Abortion Reform Act 2019 is now law, and we are pleased that abortions are (since 24 May 2019) available in the Isle of Man, and that any termination which does take place in a clinic in the UK can now be done with the full support of the Isle of Man Government.
- No longer will women need to scrimp, save or borrow to access reproductive healthcare in a neighbouring jurisdiction.
- No longer will anyone need to make a furtive journey by air or sea to a private clinic for a private termination without the support of her GP.
The full UK abortion statistics can be found here:
The 2018 figure of 95 is a 19% increase on the 2017 figure which showed a total of 80 women using Isle of Man addresses at clinics in England and Wales. In 2016 the 105 women who did the same were the inspiration for our campaign video.
The 2019 figures (to be published in June 2020) should see a dramatic fall in numbers of women travelling from the Isle of Man. However, those women who chose to travel to England or Wales between January and 24 May 2019, when the provisions of the Abortion Reform Act were made available, and any surgical terminations not carried out at Noble’s Hospital (for whatever reason) will be included.