Across the Island of Ireland, we are coming to terms with social distancing, and the huge additional burden that will be placed on our healthcare systems due to the virus. In hope of easing that burden, while also ensuring everybody can access the healthcare they require – we want to highlight the option of telemedicine abortions. Legislation to allow telemedicine and home use of both abortion medicines needs urgent consideration before our health services come under severe pressure.
Current practice means abortion seekers meet a clinician in person: Telemedicine patients can meet with a clinician by secure video conference platform. Studies show that outcomes for medication abortion provided through telemedicine are comparable with standard provision of medication abortion. Telemedicine facilitates patient-centred care by allowing patients to be seen sooner without having to visit their GP surgery.
Cathie Shiels, co-convenor for Abortion Rights Campaign said,
“We wish to express our concerns regarding abortion provision in Ireland, North and South, during this emergency period we are now entering. We are concerned that a 30 day travel ban will have long lasting consequences for people on this Island who have, until now, been able to rely on travelling to Great Britain to access services denied to them here.”
Those impacted the most will be people who need access beyond a 12 week gestation, and their situations will include those whose Medical Abortions failed, pregnancy related illness, victims of sexual crimes, domestic violence, those who have had a diagnosis of a Foetal Abnormality where Ireland will not legally treat and Northern Ireland are still unable to provide services as we await regulations from the Northern Ireland Office.
Emma Campbell, Co-Convenor of Alliance for Choice Belfast added,
“We call on our legislators to class travel to access abortion services as ‘essential travel’ during this period to ensure those who need access to abortion after the 12 week cut-off point be able to travel to Great Britain. We would urge abortion providers to recognise the risk to life and health that those with the virus are facing, and work with them to ensure the best standard of care. “
This medical crisis reveals the failure of the services we have on this Island. It is clear that any provision requiring travel can quickly become an insurmountable barrier.
Alliance for Choice Derry, Cork Rebels for Choice; Galway Pro-Choice; Leitrim Abortion Rights Campaign; Offaly Abortion Rights Campaign; North Kildare Together for Yes; Mayo Pro-Choice; Donegal Abortion Rights Campaign; Drogheda Abortion Rights Campaign; Tipp for Choice