FSRH and RCOG joint response to Informing Choices NI’s report on abortion services in Northern Ireland
Date: 23 Jun 2021
Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare respond to Informing Choices NI’s announcement to withdraw the central access point pathway if funding is not made available by 1 October 2021.
Informing Choices NI (ICNI) has announced it will be forced to withdraw the central access point into early medical abortion services, which has been provided outside of a commissioned framework since 15 April 2020, due to the ‘considerable pressures’ the service has placed on the charity’s resources. This follows the ongoing failure to commission fully-funded and staffed abortion services in Northern Ireland, despite the publication of a legal framework last year.
In their report, 'Beyond Decriminalisation: pregnancy choices and abortion care in Northern Ireland', ICNI states that 2,182 women and girls contacted the central access point between 15 April 2020 and 14 April 2021. The charity calls on the Secretary of State to intervene in order to prevent to collapse of standardised provision of non-directive information on all pregnancy choices, including abortion referral in Northern Ireland.
Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) said:
“Despite the introduction of a legal framework for abortion care in Northern Ireland last year, fully-staffed and funded abortion services are yet to be commissioned.
Informing Choices NI’s announcement that they have taken the difficult decision to withdraw the central access point if funding is not made available by 1 October 2021, should prompt much-needed action to develop a comprehensive abortion service for the region.
For the past 14 months, the charity Informing Choices NI has provided the essential central access point into early medical abortion services. However, this is clearly not a sustainable operating model, and the current situation cannot continue.
It is of paramount importance that Robin Swann MLA, as Minister of Health, takes urgent steps to ensure access to this essential form of healthcare is available to girls and women wherever they live in Northern Ireland. Abortion care services must be commissioned as a matter of urgency in Northern Ireland.”
Dr Edward Morris, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“We’re very concerned to hear that Informing Choices NI (ICNI) will be forced to withdraw the central access point into early medical abortion services if funding is not made available.
Women and girls have a right to access abortion in Northern Ireland and we know the ICNI pathway is a lifeline for those who have an unplanned pregnancy or are in crisis. Without this central access point, abortion care will be even less accessible to women in Northern Ireland.
It is now vital that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland takes control of the situation in order to protect women and direct the commissioning of these services.”
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Notes to Editors
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision. For more information, visit: www.rcog.org.uk.
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members, to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in partnership with the BMJ.