Campaigners welcome approval for remote consultations for those seeking abortion
The Abortion Rights Campaign has welcomed a response from the Ministers for Health and Justice regarding continued safe access to services during the Covid-19 crisis.
A statement issued by Abortion Rights Campaign on Sunday reads:
During this unprecedented emergency in public health, in an effort to ensure that people can access the healthcare they need, including abortion care, we contacted the Ministers for Health and Justice, asking them to allow telemedicine to be used for abortion consultations during this crisis. We reminded the Ministers that abortion is a time-sensitive and essential health service that must be accessible to those who need it.
In our letter we asked the Ministers to take immediate action to guarantee our right to access a safe abortion during this emergency. We asked the Government to take the following steps at once, in compliance with expert guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:
- allow telemedicine to be used for abortion consultations and pledge not to prosecute any doctor who provides abortion care via telemedicine during this emergency
- allow patients to take both abortion medications at home
- class travel for abortion as 'essential' during any travel bans that may be imposed during this health emergency
- extend free abortion care to residents of Northern Ireland
Telemedicine is already in use in Ireland by, for example, VideoDoc and Spectrum Health, and more recently, by individual GPs as they adapt to the current crisis. Telemedicine to provide abortion has proven safe, effective, and acceptable in other jurisdictions.
Both the Abortion Rights Campaign and the government want to keep people safe during this emergency. It is in all of our interest to minimise the strain on our healthcare system and to prevent people who are not sick from coming into contact with those who are.
Late last week, the Minister for Health stated that he was “satisfied that including remote consultation in the Model of Care at this time will ensure that medical practitioners can continue to deliver a safe service, while also reducing social contact and thus the risk to the woman’s health, as well as that to the doctor and to other patients, and reducing the burden on medical practitioners.”
We are relieved that good sense has prevailed and await further clarification as to how this service will operate.
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