Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Abortion helpline launched on Isle of Man

A teenage girl holding a pregnancy test Image copyright Katarzyna Bialasiewicz
Image caption The British Pregnancy Advisory Service said many island residents cannot afford to pay to travel to the UK for an abortion- a procedure which costs in the region of £500

A telephone helpline has been set up in the Isle of Man for women who have bought so-called abortion pills online.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said it will offer advice to women concerned about any symptoms after taking abortion medication.

A spokesman said "restrictive abortion laws" on the island are forcing women to order pills over the internet.

Anti-abortion campaigners have dismissed the helpline launch as a "dangerous publicity stunt".

Although abortion it is not currently illegal on the island, the law states the procedure can only be carried out in the event of a criminal offence or on mental health grounds.

Image caption Earlier this year members of the pro-choice group CALM have campaigned outside the parliament of Tynwald to bring Manx abortion law in line with the UK

According to the UK Department of Health, 105 women travelled from the Isle of Man to England in 2015 to terminate pregnancies.

However, while most women from the UK can have an NHS-funded abortion, those from the island have to pay for both the procedure and travel expenses.

BPAS spokesman Katherine O'Brien told the BBC that there are many who cannot afford to make the journey and are "increasingly resorting to buying medication online."

"We are concerned that, because they are committing an illegal act, women may not always seek help when they need it.

"It's really important they have access to the same follow up care and the same nurse led advice that all other women do".

Image caption Anti-abortion campaigners who "represent the rights of unborn babies" on the Isle of Man said they are against any move to change Manx law making it easier to have an abortion


The Termination of Pregnancy (Medical Defences Act) 1995 makes it illegal to "procure the miscarriage of a pregnancy, except in certain circumstances" - with fewer than 10 terminations carried out on the island each year.

Peter Williams from the Humanity and Equality in Abortion Reform (HEAR) campaign said: "There is no evidence to suggest widespread use of abortion pills in the Isle of Man.

"We are concerned that this attention-seeking initiative could endangers the lives of women by promoting the use of online abortion pills".

A spokesman for the Manx government said a review of the current act is included in the Isle of Man Government's legislative programme.

"We recognise that there are circumstances where a woman or couple will decide that terminating a pregnancy - whether on medical grounds due to concerns about the health of the mother or because of a condition diagnosed in the foetus - is the right course of action for them.

"The Department [of Health and Social Care] understands the difficulty such a decision can pose."

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