UK should offer Americans and other foreign nationals free abortion, BMA says

·2 min read
Abortion Tennessee (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Abortion Tennessee (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Americans blocked from getting an abortion in their home state should be allowed to get the procedure for free in the UK, British doctors have said.

The British Medical Association, which condemned the overturning of Roe v Wade by the US Supreme Court, agreed to lobby the UK government on the issue.

An emergency motion presented to the union’s annual representative meeting also called for buffer zones to be placed around abortion clinics, preventing anti-abortion protests from taking place near them.

The motion, proposed by medical student Marina Politis, said the Supreme Court’s decision to end the constitutional right to abortion “will cause immeasurable harm”.

She said in her proposal speech: “Abortion is essential healthcare – in the case of ectopic pregnancy, of septic uteri, of pregnant people with cancer who need chemotherapy, and in these cases the US Supreme Court’s decision is a death sentence.

“The BMA must stand in solidarity and support to US activists and healthcare professionals working against this encroachment on this basic right to health, healthcare and reproductive justice.”

Politis added: “In the context of a hostile environment, we have seen increased migrant charging.

“We must call for the provision of free and safe abortion care to all nationals seeking this in the UK without subjecting them to the overseas patient upfront tariff, regardless of borders.”

More than half (57 per cent) of doctors voted in favour of the clause calling for the UK to offer free abortions to all nationalities, including Americans. However, 36 per cent voted against and seven per cent abstained.

Foreign nationals can access abortions in the UK, but have to pay up to £1,510 for the consultation and procedure.

According to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), of the 80,0000 women who receive abortions each year, 4,000 are international patients.

The American Medical Association (AMA) thanked the BMA for backing the motion.

Dr Lisa Egbert of the AMA said in a statement: “The AMA is thankful to the British association for adding your voice recognising access to essential medical care as a fundamental human right.”