Americans who don’t have access to abortions should get free services in the UK, British doctors have said.
In an emergency debate in response to the US Supreme Court decision to overturn the Roe v Wade ruling, the British Medical Association (BMA) agreed to lobby the UK government on the issue.
The statement came in response to the highly controversial move to end women’s legal right to abortion in the US. Foreign patients can currently afford abortions in the UK.
“In other, less risky pregnancies, this decision still deprives the individual of an essential right to choose what happens to their own body.
“In the context of a hostile environment, we have seen migrants charge more and more. We must also provide safe abortion care to all nationals seeking it here in the UK, without subjecting them to upfront fees for patients abroad – and this must be regardless of borders going far beyond the US.”
The motion was passed and 57% of doctors voted in favor of the clause calling for the provision of free abortions to all nationalities in the UK, 36% against and 7% abstain.
Of the 80,000 women who have an abortion each year from the UK Pregnancy Advisory Service, 4,000 are international patients.
Women whose government doesn’t cover the cost will pay between £480 and £1,510 for the consultation and procedure, according to the Daily Telegraph, depending on the method and how many weeks pregnant they are.
After the BMA’s annual representative meeting, Politis said she was “proud to see our profession’s commitment to global reproductive rights”.
“It is paramount that we stand in solidarity with the American Medical Association and our American colleagues,” she told The Guardian. “Passing this motion emphasizes that we do not support this dangerous erosion of reproductive rights, which is also an erosion of human rights.
“It is imperative that passing this motion is just the beginning and that this policy is implemented now.”
The members also agreed to publicly condemn the overturning of the Roe v Wade ruling and support American doctors who performed abortions. They called on the British government to “strengthen” [its] own abortion facility”.
dr. Lisa Egbert, of the American Medical Association (AMA), said: “The AMA is grateful to the British Association for adding your voice and recognizing access to essential medical care as a fundamental human right.”
Boris Johnson called the US court ruling a “backward step”, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also joined the widespread condemnation among world leaders. Joe Biden, the US president, called the move a “tragic mistake”.