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Charity launches legal action after investigation finds NHS fees may force pregnant migrants into unwanted abortions

A UK charity has launched a legal challenge against the policy of charging vulnerable migrant women £7,000 or more to access NHS maternity care as it could force many of them into unwanted abortions and deter them from essential medical support.

Maternity care is an “immediately necessary service” in the UK, which means it must never be refused or delayed regardless of a patient’s immigration status or ability to pay. 

But Maternity Action says destitute migrant women who struggle to afford food and accommodation are receiving bills of £7,000 or more. 

The charity’s 2018 report into the impact of NHS maternity care charges revealed that out of sixteen women interviewed three would have had an abortion had they known about the charges earlier into their pregnancies.

One such woman was Leah, who was abandoned by her partner when she became pregnant. She had nowhere to live and no money. When faced with NHS costs the pregnant mother said, “I feel lost right now… Then, with the charging [I feel] bad… If I hadn’t been 33 weeks [pregnant] I could have aborted it.”

Maternity Action’s research also found that many women are avoiding essential medical care in an attempt to save money and that charges were inducing very high levels of anxiety and fear into women, affecting their physical as well as mental health.

In its legal challenge, the charity argues that the government is in breach of the public sector equality duty. The charity is calling on the Government to widen access to free maternity care and undertake a review of the “harsh” impact of charging vulnerable migrant women for such care. 

A number of professional health bodies have previously urged the Government to scrap NHS charges for foreign pregnant women on the grounds that they are potentially harmful to mothers and babies.

Last month, the Royal College of Midwives – which represents 47,000 midwives – backed a report by Maternity Action calling on the Government to drop the fees. 

In December 2018 the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists published a joint statement calling on the government to abolish NHS charges pending a review.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “While we expect overseas visitors to contribute to the cost of their care just like British taxpayers do, the NHS will never refuse maternity care – regardless of whether someone can pay – and vulnerable people, including asylum seekers, are exempt.”

Spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: 

“It’s upsetting to hear of sad stories where pregnant mothers feel that due to the nature of their circumstances they have no alternative but to abort their unborn baby.

“We want to see the Government commit to more compassionate policies that widen free maternity care and better support pregnant migrants and their unborn babies.”

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader,

Thanks to the support of people like you, on Monday 5 July, a major attempt to hijack the UK Government’s flagship Police , Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill with two extreme abortion proposals failed, in a major pro-life victory.

Unfortunately, this major defeat is not the end for our opposition.

The abortion lobby has already been successful at using the Coronavirus crisis to temporarily introduce ‘DIY’ home abortions.

The policy has not only accompanied a large increase in the number of lives ended by abortion but has also been linked to a number of serious incidents where women’s lives have been put at risk while performing their abortion at home.

Our opposition is now eager to see more widespread changes to legislation enacted and we are currently facing major threats on three fronts:

  1. The abortion lobby is further exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to attempt to make dangerous ‘DIY’ home abortions available permanently.
  2. The Northern Ireland Secretary has given himself new powers to force expanded abortion services on Northern Ireland.
  3. The assisted suicide lobby has brought foward a bill to legalise assisted suicide, which was introduced to the House of Lords on 26 May.

If these major threats from our opposition are successful, it would be a disaster. Thousands of lives would be lost. We can’t sit on the sidelines and watch these extreme anti-life changes become a reality.

As you can see, while we have won our most recent battle, we continue to be facing a very large challenge on life issues in the UK over the next couple of months – and we will be facing this across multiple fronts.

We are, therefore, appealing to you to please give as generously as you can. Every donation, no matter how small, will go towards saving the lives of the unborn and many others.

By stopping these threats, YOU can save lives over this coming period.

Will you make a special gift right now to help protect vulnerable lives from these threats?

Q

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Right To Life UK will use the information you provide on this form to keep in touch with you and to provide updates. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at info@righttolife.org.uk. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please see our Privacy Policy.

Q

Be the first to know…

When you sign up for email updates from us, you will be receiving:

Action alerts on the latest pro-life developments along with tools to help you change hearts and minds

Opportunities to help protect and defend more lives

Where should we send your updates?
By clicking submit, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms below.

Right To Life UK will use the information you provide on this form to keep in touch with you and to provide updates. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at info@righttolife.org.uk. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please see our Privacy Policy.

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