Self-proclaimed “pro-life” Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann has reportedly attempted to introduce ‘DIY’ home abortions to Northern Ireland but was blocked by the Northern Ireland Executive.
Since the beginning of 2021, the Northern Ireland Executive, the Department of Health and the Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis MP, have been embroiled in a row over the commissioning of abortion in Northern Ireland. While abortion was imposed upon Northern Ireland in March 2020, there is not yet a national abortion policy ensuring its provision across the region.
This month, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) has taken the Northern Ireland Executive, the Department of Health and the Northern Ireland Secretary to the High Court in Belfast, accusing them of an “abdication of legal responsibility”.
At the same time as this turmoil surrounding the commissioning of abortion in the region, the BBC has reported that the Northern Ireland Health Minister, Robin Swann, brought forward a proposal to the Northern Ireland Executive that would have introduced ‘DIY’ home abortion to Northern Ireland, whereby a woman performs her own medical abortion at home without in-person medical supervision.
Mr Swann is also a self-proclaimed “pro-life” politician.
As recently as 2018 he said: “I am pro-life and I am on record as such”.
“I am reassured that our party stance on abortion, as being a matter of conscience, is the right one”.
‘DIY’ abortions have been in place in the rest of the UK since March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This dangerous practice was justified on the grounds of the perceived danger of meeting a physician in person during the uncertainties of the pandemic.
There have subsequently been consultations and debate in Britain about whether to make ‘DIY’ abortions a permanent feature of the law. The results of these consultations will be known later this year.
‘DIY’ home abortions are known to be open to coercion, as abuse within the home is less likely to be detected and there is of course no way of knowing who ultimately takes the abortion pills. Furthermore, without confirming the gestation of the baby via ultrasound, women are able to perform a ‘DIY’ abortion after 10 weeks gestation, which is both illegal and medically dangerous.
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “The dangers of DIY abortions are well known. There is no guarantee about who actually takes the abortion drugs; there are no in-person checks on the gestation of the baby, and it is very difficult to reliably assess whether or not the woman is being forced into doing something she does not want to do”.
“That a “pro-life” politician would propose the introduction of DIY abortions is disgraceful. Mr Swann is either deeply confused about what it means to be pro-life, or he is a liar and is not fit to hold his office”.
“We are calling on people in Northern Ireland to urgently contact Mr Swann and the UUP making it clear that they are outraged to hear that an MLA who claims to be pro-life has attempted to introduce ‘DIY’ abortion and outline that this action, along with any future actions from Mr Swann to endanger the lives of more unborn babies, will play a major part in deciding who to vote for in the next Stormont elections”.