The GHA abortion service was set up not to encourage abortion, but to provide an entirely confidential, non-judgemental and safe environment to allow women who are considering abortion, to explore all their options with support from clinical staff including counsellors. This is evident by the fact that 4 out of fifteen women who were at the point of considering an abortion, were so safely able to discuss their concerns that they decided to proceed with their pregnancies. Granted the numbers are small, but this represents 27% of the women who sought help from the service, who may have in fact proceeded with an abortion had they attended a private clinic out of Gibraltar that would not have been able to support and advise women of all their options.
The service is absolutely designed to ensure a duty of care towards the women seeking an abortion. The single telephone line access means a minimum number of people are involved when a woman wishes to access the service. Women are seen in a general Gynaecology clinic to ensure confidentiality, and women are offered counselling and a cool off period as part of the standard care pathway. If they do decide to proceed with an abortion, the tablets given for a medical abortion are given in St Bernard’s Hospital, and are not taken at home as would be the practice in the UK for example. The first tablet is given in the Gynaecology clinic and the second in the Day Surgery Unit so that women are monitored for pain, supported if distressed, and their observations checked. Women are then given the choice as to when they would like to go home that day. The actual process itself can take 24 hours or more but the care and support offered in particular in the first few hours of taking the second tablet is extremely comprehensive.
The GHA is entirely dedicated to supporting all service users and the abortion service is an example of how this can be achieved in a safe, compassionate and supportive way.