Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Irish Medical Times: Abortion Access Eased

Irish Medical Times May 16th 2008
By Sandra Ryan

Abortion Access Eased

Access for drug induced abortions may become possible for Irish women travelling to the UK, following a pilot study showing that early medical abortions could be safely carried out in community health centres, GP surgeries and family planning clinics.

The study, carried out at Southampton University, showed that women welcomed the informality and increased availability of staff support, confirming the experience of other countries already offering early abortions using drugs.

Debate over the time limit for abortions has heated up this week in the UK, following proposals to cut the 24-week limit to 22 weeks, while making access to abortion easier for women.

But doctors have siad studies show there is no scientific justification for lowering the 24-week time limit. Research published in the latest British Medical Journal concludes there is no significant improvement in the survival of babies born before 24 weeks' gestation.

Chairman of the British Medical Association's Ethics Committee, Dr Tony Calland, said the work is the most up-to-date research on the survivval of premature babies. 'Although the vast majority of abortions take place in the first trimester there are still women who need abortion services later on in their pregnancy,' he said. 'To lower the limit would leave a number of women in dire circumstances.'

Meanwhile, a report by the Spanish Institute for Family Policies has found that the UK has the second-highest abortion rate (after France) in Europe with 194,353 terminations in 2006.

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