Abortion Services: Western Trust

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 26th April 2021.

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Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP 2:30 pm, 26th April 2021

T2. Mr T Buchanan asked the Minister of Health, after stating that he wholeheartedly welcomes the suspension of abortion services in the Western Trust, which he believes is an answer to prayers and about which he will continue to pray in the hope that the service remains suspended and does not resume, to outline the extent of the resource issue that his Department will face should it be compelled to commission such services across the health and social care system. (AQT 1222/17-22)

Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP

I thank the Member for his question. That scoping work is being carried out, as it was work that was commissioned by my permanent secretary during the period when there was no Minister in place. That has recommenced following an easing of COVID pressures, and it is being reported to the Northern Ireland Office, which is engaging with that.

Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP

I thank the Minister for his response. It is of extreme concern that there are still those in the House who are constant advocates and cheerleaders for the premeditated murder of the unborn child through the mechanism of abortion. We saw that again in Saturday's 'News Letter'. Does the Minister agree that it would be much better to ensure that we have proper help and support services in place for mothers-to-be who may feel vulnerable and unable to cope, rather than advocating the destruction of the unborn child? Will he advise where he and his Department are in ensuring that such services are readily available in every trust area for all those who need to avail themselves of them?

Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP

I note the Member's point. Due to the decision taken during the period when this place did not sit, there is now a duty on trusts across Northern Ireland to deliver abortion services. There is also a duty on us to support mothers and potential mothers with every physical and psychological support that we, as a health and social care service, can provide, no matter what their decision on abortion. That duty is there. I, for one, think that the women of Northern Ireland deserve that we deliver that for them.