BY SCO Admin | February 23 2018 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Scottish Government criticised over abortion funding after poll shows opposition

Church criticises Holyrood for funding abortions for women from Northern Ireland

The Church has called on the government to ‘stop meddling’ in the affairs of other countries and putting lives at risk after a new poll showed that two-thirds of the population are against Scottish funding of abortions for women from Northern Ireland.

A ComRes poll published this week for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland (SPUC Scotland) found opposition to abortion in a number of areas across Scottish society.

67 per cent said it is not acceptable for the Scottish Government to pay for the travel, accommodation and medical costs of women from Northern Ireland to have an abortion in Scotland while 42 per cent of people said women shouldn’t be given an abortion pill that they can take in their own home, with only 38 per cent agreeing they should.

“The Scottish public clearly disapproves of the Scottish Government’s decision to fund abortions for women from Northern Ireland and to allow women to take abortion pills at home,” Anthony Horan, the director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, said. “These findings reveal stark differences between Scottish Government policy and the views of the public. Perhaps it is about time the government listened to the electorate and did the honourable thing: stop meddling in the affairs of other jurisdictions and stop putting the lives of women and their unborn children at risk.”


Out of touch

In November, new regulations came into force that allow women from Northern Ireland to receive abortions free of charge on the NHS in Scotland. Similar arrangements are in place in England and Wales. Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland unless there is a threat to the mother’s life.

SPUC Scotland is currently preparing to take the Scottish Government to court after seeking a judicial review of proposals announced last year which would allow women to take an abortion pill at home rather than in a clinical setting under supervision.

John Deighan, chief executive of the pro-life group, said the poll shows the government is out of touch with the ‘ordinary man and woman in the street.’

“Since Westminster devolved powers on abortion to Holyrood there have been two major interventions by the SNP administration—free abortions for women from Northern Ireland and DIY at-home abortions,” he said. “But the poll is a damning indictment of such interventions and reveals that the Scottish administration is failing to carry the support of voters or represent the views of the electorate. They should face up to reality and reverse these plans now.”

ComRes surveyed 1,000 Scottish adults aged 18 and above between January 29 and February 2. The survey found that a relative majority of Scots—41 per cent—support abortion up to 12 weeks—well below the current 24-week limit.

It also found support for late-term abortions drop when people are shown pictures of the baby’s development in the womb and that women are considerably more in favour of reduced term limits.

88 per cent of people according to the poll believe women considering an abortion should be offered independent counselling by someone other than the abortion provider and 92 per cent believe there should be strong consent procedures in place so that women do not feel coerced into having an abortion.


Conscientious objection

 The poll also found that 56 per cent of people agree that ‘doctors and other medical staff should not be compelled to perform abortions if they have a strong moral objection.’ Only 33 per cent disagreed with the statement.

Retired midwife Mary Doogan fought in the courts for six years to win the right for medical staff to not be involved in overseeing abortions. She said she is not surprised at the support for rights to conscientiously object to the procedure.

“It doesn’t come as a surprise,” she said. “Even colleagues I worked with who supported abortion agreed with us. The people I took most encouragement from were colleagues who supported me even though they didn’t think the same as me.”

Along with fellow midwife Connie Wood, Mrs Doogan won a case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, but ultimately their battle ended when the Supreme Court in London found against them in 2014.

Mrs Doogan said people often willfully ignore the reality of abortion and leave it up to medical professionals to ‘do the dirty work.’

She said that once you explain the reality of abortion and the simple principle behind a conscientious objection, they are fully supportive.

And she added that there was a ‘political agenda’ to crush conscience rights, arguing that a shortage of midwives in Scotland is in part down to the lack of a proper conscientious clause. “I know people who have told me they didn’t go into midwifery because of the abortion issue, and I would not have gone into it if the situation was the same as now.”

SPUC Scotland said they will go to the Court of Sessions in Edinburgh in ‘a matter of weeks’ to mount a judicial review of home abortion pill proposals outlined in October last year by the country’s chief medical officer.

They are challenging on two grounds, arguing that the 1967 Abortion Act ‘was not intended to allow abortions to take place at home’ and that allowing women to take an abortion-causing drug at home ‘is not consistent with the Abortion Act which requires the presence of medical, nursing or clinical staff.’


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