Great, we changed the law. Tynwald passed the Abortion Reform Act 2019 and the service was put in place in May that year.
But you’d be forgiven for not knowing how to access it.
As we said back in 2019, passing the law is one thing but the services promised there had to be offered, and had to be available. It’s taken over 2 years for the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee to report on the service and to be honest, it’s pretty damning.
In submissions to the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee, Lynn Dawson (on behalf of CALM), BPAS (which operates the service in the Isle of Man) and British Society of Abortion Care Providers, all noted the same thing:
the lack of sign-posting and information on services available.
As Ms Dawson says:
- There are NO posters or leaflets in GP surgeries (or pharmacies, or anywhere else for that matter).
- The telephone number is not listed on the page devoted to Women and
- The telephone number is not listed on the family planning page.
- A search of the department page on the Government website shows that the (Abortion Service) number is available in a news item from May 2019 but has not been added to any of the services that women might try to access it through.
The only place you might find the Abortion Service telephone number (01624 642521) is in the ‘useful numbers’ section of the local phone book – BECAUSE CALM ASKED FOR IT TO BE INCLUDED.
CALM echoes the conclusion of the SAPR Committee in its report :
“While we welcome the implementation of the Abortion Reform Act 2019, we conclude that there is a compelling need for significantly better public
information on the availability in the Island of abortion services. At the very least there should be leaflets and posters in GPs’ surgeries.”
A ‘compelling need’, ‘significantly bettter public information‘, ‘at the very least‘ – some strong words there, so let’s hope they are followed by strong actions.
The full report is available here
but you might notice some glaring omissions
Those responsible for making sure the Isle of Man Abortion Service runs properly and offers a seamless legal, accessible and, when possible, local service – namely the DHSC, Manx Care and Public Health – chose not to make submissions to the SAPR Committee.
Why not? we couldn’t possibly commment. But we hope our MHKs and MLCs will pose a few pertinent questions to both Julie Edge MHK, the committee chair and to David Ashford MHK, the Health Minister, when the report is laid before Tynwald this month.
We’ll give the last words to BPAS:
“the DHSC should better advertise the service and the provisions available to ensure that all women who need abortion care are aware that they can obtain it without personal cost and in a convenient and confidential way.”