Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill: island communities impact assessment screening

Island communities impact assessment (ICIA) screening for the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Scotland) Bill.

Step two - Gather your data and identify your stakeholders

What data is available about the current situation in the islands? How does any existing data differ between islands?

Public Health Scotland (PHS)[1] routinely collect data on abortion on behalf of the Scottish Government. Figures on abortion for the year ending December 2022 are provided below:

NHS Board Number Rate per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44
Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles NHS Board areas 77 6.9
NHS Highland 634 12.6
NHS Ayrshire & Arran 830 13.6
NHS Dumfries & Galloway 308 13.8
NHS Borders 240 14
NHS Fife 972 14.5
NHS Grampian 1,659 15.3
NHS Lothian 3,045 15.4
NHS Forth Valley 913 16.5
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde 4,178 17.1
NHS Lanarkshire 2,253 18.6
NHS Tayside 1,475 19.4
Scotland 16,596 16.1

As shown above, NHS Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles boards had the lowest abortion rates per 1000 women when compared to mainland boards during the reporting year ending December 2022[2]. NHS Highland, and NHS Ayrshire and Arran, which also cover some Island communities, had a slightly higher rates though these were still lower than average abortion rates when compared to the Scottish average.[3] Similar trends can be seen when analysing the data from previous years.[4]

Due to the limited number of abortions which are sought within Island communities, most Island Health Boards only provide abortion services to limited gestations and beyond these gestations there are service level agreements in place within mainland Health Boards. Consequently, patients requiring abortion services at gestations outwith that provided by their Health Board may have to travel to mainland hospitals or clinics for treatment.

To date there have been no reports of anti-abortion activity taking place on Island communities. However, as set out above and detailed in the Policy Memorandum, the Bill takes a preventative approach so all premises providing abortion services will have safe access zones established regardless of whether there has been previous anti-abortion activity. This ensures that any risk of displacement activity is minimized and all those accessing or providing abortion services are protected to the same degree, regardless of where in Scotland they live, or where they access or provide services.

Are there any existing design features or mitigations in place?

The provisions within the Bill will apply equally to all parties and will not be different between the island communities and the rest of Scotland.


Email: abortionteam@gov.scot

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