Pregnant and Desperate: Women and Girls Living in Northern Ireland, Malta and Gibraltar Are Able To Escape Unwanted Parenthood and Life In Prison With Help From The Abortion Support Network (ASN)

In the U.K. one in three women have had or will have an abortion by the time they are 45. 

That means that one in three women and girls have experienced the utter panic of an unwanted pregnancy. When this happens to a woman or girl living in Northern Ireland, Gibraltar or Malta who doesn’t have the funds to travel to a country where abortion is legal, she faces life in prison (as does anyone assisting or performing in the procedure). 

It was only a little more than a year ago that English lawmakers extended free NHS services to pregnant women and girls from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland seeking termination procedures in England. Now these women and girls are spared the expense (up to £2000) of a private abortion. 

But they still must find the money to pay for travel documents, flights, childcare for existing children and accommodation. They’ve got to be able to afford to take time off work and often they must  keep the reason for the trip secret not just from the law but also from family and friends. 

Ten years ago a woman named Mara Clarke decided to help these women and girls by creating the Abortion Support Network (ASN). The bulk of ASN’s help is simply providing answers to questions about where to go in England for the least expensive abortion and how much it will cost to get there. ASN also gives up to date information on how to access illegal early abortion pills, which documents are required to travel between countries and how to book an appointment. 


“ASN is an abortion fund, which means we believe “I can’t afford an abortion” should not be the only reason someone becomes a parent.  ASN is here to catch those who are unable to access an abortion in their country, and who do not have the financial resources to access one abroad.  

Our clients tend to be those who are marginalised and at risk – those in and escaping abusive relationships, people with insecure immigration status, families with pregnancies diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormalities, people who are poor. At ASN we do not ask our clients how they got pregnant or why they want abortions, as the rich do not need to justify themselves. Our only criteria is financial need and our availability of funds.” - Mara Clarke founder of ASN 


On Thursday September 26th VERVE is hosting a VTT to provide information, discussion and financial support for ASN and the desperate women who need compassionate, judgement-free advice on how to access legal, safe, and low cost terminations for unwanted pregnancies.  

Come be a Feminist Shero and help us, help Mara, help them.

Article by VERVE Founder & CFO (Chief Feminist Operative) Anna Quick-Palmer

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