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No prosecutions for Northern Ireland abortion referrals

7 September, 2017

No prosecutions for Northern Ireland abortion referrals

The RCM has called on the Department of Health in Northern Ireland to issue clear guidance on abortion referrals for midwives and other healthcare professionals.

The call comes as the threat of prosecution against midwives and other medical professionals in Northern Ireland to make abortion referrals to the UK has been lifted.
 
Amnesty International has confirmed that the Director for Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland, Barra McGrory QC has told them ‘that he can see no risk of criminal prosecution for NHS employees in Northern Ireland who refer women to NHS hospitals and clinics in the rest of the UK’.
 
Breedagh Hughes, the RCM’s director for Northern Ireland, said: ‘Midwives have been operating in a climate of fear of prosecution since 2013. Women in Northern Ireland have not been getting the care and referrals to services in the UK that they really need because of this threat which we now know does not exist.
 
‘This is a welcome development and will enable us to look after women who seek or need abortion services. Midwives and other healthcare professionals will now be able to refer women to the rest of the UK for abortion services, confident that they will not face prosecution or criminal sanctions.
 
‘The RCM is now calling on the Department of Health in Northern Ireland to issue clear guidance on referring women for abortion to midwives and all those working in this area of healthcare.’
  
Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland campaigns manager, said: ‘The Public Prosecution Service has now stated clearly they can see no risk of criminal prosecution in these circumstances. 

‘This is hugely important and should relieve the profession of this chilling threat. This is a significant breakthrough in the fight for abortion rights here.’

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