With the EU’s 30-day travel ban set to limit access to abortion, activists are fighting for the legalisation of abortion telemedicine
On October 21 last year, women in Ireland celebrated. After a long battle, abortion services were legalised across the island. But as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps its way across Europe, this access to abortions is now under threat.
Yesterday the EU announced a 30-day ban on all ‘non-essential’ travel. This will gravely impact scores of women across Northern Ireland, as they’re currently still required to travel to mainland UK to access abortion services.
Addressing the 12-week cut-off point for abortion imposed on women in Ireland, Emma Campbell, co-convenor of Alliance for Choice Belfast, made calls for travel to access abortion services to be deemed ‘essential travel’:
‘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,’ she said.
The move has provoked abortion rights groups across Ireland to call for telemedicine abortions – to allow home use of abortion medication.
Backed by Alliance for Choice – the Abortion Rights Campaign & Abortion Support Network – the groups believe telemedicine will provide a safe way to support abortion seekers throughout the coronavirus crisis.
The initiative would allow women to talk to a clinician via a video conference platform, before having abortion medication sent directly to their homes. Speaking of the need to implement such a measure in this emergency period, Cathie Shiels, co-convenor for Abortion Rights Campaign, said, ‘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.’