On 15 June 2021 the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee report on the Island’s abortion services was presented to Tynwald and CALM was delighted to hear Health Minister, David Ashford MHK say that Manx Care is relaunching access to Abortion Services with more publicity and online signposting.
Not before time!
The Abortion Reform Act was given Royal Assent in early 2019 and the DHSC had months to get this ‘signposting’ in place before the service was launched in May that year. That it wasn’t, came as no great surprise to CALM.
In June 2020 Dr Alex Allinson MHK wrote to committee Chair Julie Edge MHK to remind her that a review of the service was due, and a couple of months later Lynn Dawson from CALM actually met with the Health Minister to say that although there was an abortion service in place, the DHSC was not doing its bit to make sure it was advertised. Despite Mr Ashford’s assurances that he’d look into it, nothing happened and it wasn’t until spring 2021 that the SAPR Committee invited submissions from the public. It was the resulting report that was presented to Tynwald this week.
With almost every submission criticising the DHSC for the lack of public information about the Abortion Service CALM described this report as ‘damning’, although Members of Tynwald were more circumspect (‘disappointing’ was the most used term in the Chamber). But we’ve finally got a result –
At last, and in public, the Health Minister has accepted that the Abortion Service is poorly advertised and poorly promoted, and has committed to change this.
It is just a shame that it’s taken so long.
And by the way, although Minister Ashford mentioned Manx Care’s role in educating GPs about the service, we’d like to remind everyone that the provisions of the Abortion Reform Act specifically allow for the new abortion service to be one of self-referral: women being trusted to take responsibility for their own reproductive health. It is not necessary to see a GP first.
The Abortion Service telephone number is 01624 642521.
The Social Affairs Policy Review Committee report can be found here:
And you can listen back to the Tynwald sitting here (it’s close to the end of the afternoon sitting)