Not really a big issue, but as I’ve not been on here for a while I’ve just been scanning the automatically created link list of stories to do with Kevin Barron MP on the right, and the one about Polish women coming to the UK for abortions caught my eye, as it sounded very much like a ‘Daily Mail gets hysterical’ story, if you’ll excuse the pun. I wondered what Kevin had to say.
The story is that a Polish women’s rights group is running a poster campaign in Poland, where abortions are strictly controlled, explaining that flying to Britain, staying in a hotel and having an abortion on the NHS is cheaper and a whole lot safer than getting an underground abortion in Poland.
I have no idea how much an underground abortion is in Poland, or anywhere for that matter, but I have no reason to doubt that the what the poster says is true. It’s exactly the same logic that has seen many, many Irish women come over to the UK for an abortion on the NHS over the years. I suspect the ever-so moral Catholic Church is behind the legislation in both countries too, incidentally.
So what does Kevin Barron have to say about it – he is, after all, chairman of the Health Select Committee, so this is his area of expertise.
“’If a woman who is not British attempted to get a termination here I would hope they would be turned away,” said Barron
Hmm. He’d “hope” they’d be turned away. Clearly they are not – the article states 10,000 Polish women had abortions in the UK in 2007, at a cost to the UK tax-payer of between £5 million and £10 million. I’m not sure if that is correct or not though because although the NHS has a duty of care to anyone who walks through the door, I’m not sure if an abortion of a normal pregnancy would be covered under ‘duty of care.’
The official figures show 30 Polish nationals had abortions on the NHS in 2008. Compared to 150 Italians, and 4,600 Irish women.
Clearly Kevin Barron’s hope is in vain – people who aren’t British are getting abortions on the NHS, although not in anything like the numbers this report suggests – but then we’re not sure, it might be that women who want an abortion and cannot get one are prepared to rent a UK address in order to get treatment on the NHS, and are thus being recorded as UK residents. We just don’t know.
Kevin’s ‘charity begins at home’ response has surprised me somewhat though. It’s not as if this hasn’t been going on for years. I’d be surprised if there aren’t cases locally of Irish family members have stayed with relatives in order to get an NHS abortion, and yet the best Kevin can do is ‘hope’ – he doesn’t know, he’s just an influential member of the government, it’s not like he could have done anything about it!