GPs refer women to a termination clinic
Abortion law in Jersey
By Claire Peters
Recently UK politicians voted to keep the current 24-week cut-off for abortions, but do you know what the abortion laws are in Jersey?
UK politicians recently voted against shortening the time in which women could have a legal abortion.
The Commons rejected the idea of lowering the legal time limit, with MPs deciding 24 weeks was still appropriate, despite medical advances.
But Dr Fiona Nelson, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Jersey General Hospital, told BBC Radio Jersey the laws for abortion in the island were very different to those in the UK.
“In fact they [Jersey abortion laws] were only introduced in 1997, unlike the Abortion Act in the UK which goes back for 40 years,” she explained.
Twelve week cut-off
In Jersey terminations are only available, under normal conditions, until the 12th week of pregnancy.
In extreme cases, when continuing with the pregnancy puts the mother’s life in danger or there’s serious foetal abnormality, islanders can have the procedure up until 24 weeks.
“If the woman just doesn’t want to be pregnant then we would refer them off-island to have the termination done,” said Dr Nelson of anyone who’s passed the 12 week limit.
She also described how women who request a termination in Jersey must wait a week before having the procedure so they can think the decision through fully.
“If a woman discovers she is pregnant and doesn’t want to continue with it she will go to her GP, or one of the family planning clinics, and be referred to the termination clinic at the hospital.
“There has to be a seven day cooling-off period for women to decide that that’s the right thing for them.”
Many women find the decision emotional
Decrease in terminations
The consultant explained the number of terminations carried out in Jersey was decreasing, which is the opposite trend to UK figures.
“Initially there were about 300 women, now it’s just over 200 a year that are having terminations in Jersey.
“On the grounds of foetal abnormality and severe maternal health issues we only had 13 terminations between 12 and 24 weeks of pregnancy last year.”
She added there were only a “handful” of women who were referred off island because they didn’t wish to be pregnant but had passed the 12-week cut-off.
'Rarely younger women'
Bronia Lever from Brook Jersey, a free sexual health advice service, said contrary to popular belief, and in contrast to the UK, it was rarely younger women who were referred for an off-island termination.
“I certainly can’t remember any under-21s in the last few years that we’ve made a referral for,” she told BBC Jersey.
“It does tend to be the older ladies who we make referrals for.”
Seeking advice early on
Ms Lever also added Brook Jersey was “generally very happy” with the current 12-week limit for terminations in the island.
“Women seem to know what the limit is and certainly seem to seek professional advice early on in their pregnancy.
“So at the current time we don’t have any reasons to look at getting the law changed.”
last updated: 21/05/2008 at 16:56
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