Irish women seeking abortions turned away at major UK clinic
Many women from Ireland who travel to England for a pregnancy termination at one of its main abortion providers are being referred to other clinics.
It follows the suspension of some services at the Marie Stopes International chain of abortion clinics in the wake of a watchdog inspection.
A spokesman confirmed yesterday that around 1,500 to 2,000 women travel from Ireland to use its services annually.
However, following an inspection by the British safety watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, which raised "serious concerns" about some training and governance procedures at the service, it has voluntarily suspended some procedures.
The spokesman said the suspensions applied for women who travel to England for an abortion.
They will not be able to access surgical abortion requiring general anaesthetic or conscious sedation. They will be still be able to have a surgical abortion using local anaesthetic.
They will be able to have a medical abortion - but not if they are under 18 or need additional consent.
The restrictions at its Belfast clinic relate only to abortions for women under 18 and other services are continuing there as normal.
Last year, 3,451 women from Ireland had abortions in the UK. There were 76 under-18s and 513 women had an abortion over 12 weeks' gestation - at which point the majority of women would have a surgical termination. Women in these circumstances would currently be unable to access services at Marie Stopes.
A spokeswoman for one of the other providers of abortion services in the UK, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service - which is taking on the affected women - said it was working hard to ensure that they faced as little disruption as possible.
Any woman, whether from Dublin or London, who needed abortion care would be able to receive treatment, she added.
The Marie Stopes clinics highlights its discounted services for women on the website of the Reproductive Choices service in Dublin.
The prices range from €510 to €1,670 depending on the type of procedure involved. The spokesman said it was working urgently with the safety watchdog to tackle areas of concern. He said the immediate priority was to make sure women whose booking was affected were rebooked swiftly "into alternative services".
Last June, a doctor and two nurses at a Marie Stopes service had charges of manslaughter against them dropped arising out of the death of a woman who travelled from Dublin for an abortion in one of its clinics.
Aisha Chithira (32) bled to death in a taxi in 2012 after having the procedure. They were formally acquitted of the charges of manslaughter by gross negligence.