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Bradshaw welcomes UK Government direction on commissioning abortion services here

Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed a direction from the UK Government to the Department of Health to set up full abortion services in Northern Ireland by March at the latest.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis said while he recognised the strain the pandemic had put on healthcare, he was ‘extremely disappointed’ the commissioning of full abortion services here had not happened.

“It is depressing the Secretary of State has had to intervene yet again to ensure women here are afforded the same access to reproductive health as others across the UK. It is further lamentable the Department of Health has indicated that it could take until the end of March 2022 before these services can be fully commissioned,” said Ms Bradshaw.

“The Northern Ireland Abortion and Contraception Taskforce – a multi-disciplinary group of healthcare professionals – produced a report in March 2021 with clear recommendations and have done all the heavy-lifting for the Department, providing their expertise and knowledge willingly to expedite this process.

“It is imperative this issue is now placed on the Executive’s agenda and there is immediate sign-off. The last thing women here need are even further delays or the prospect of more legal action to avail of services.

“Healthcare professionals and Trust representatives, who have recently given evidence to the Health Committee at Stormont, have all indicated a fully-commissioned service is in everyone’s interest, including those staff who may choose to conscientiously object, so this state of limbo can be replaced with a comprehensive framework of healthcare services provided on a stable footing.”