Northern Ireland news

Queen's and Ulster University 'will amend teaching' to reflect any changes in abortion legislation

Medical and nursing students at Queen's University are taught about the north's abortion laws

Northern Ireland's two universities have said they will amend their medical and nursing training if abortion laws are changed.

Medical and nursing students at Queen's University Belfast and nursing students at Ulster University are taught about the north's abortion legislation as part of their studies.

However, the teaching will be amended to reflect any new laws if terminations are decriminalised.

Abortions are due to be decriminalised if a power-sharing assembly does not return by October 21.

The move comes after MPs and peers voted last month to back changes to the north's abortion laws.

Terminations are expected to be allowed up to 24 weeks, in line with Britain, with new abortion regulations due to be in place by March 2020.

A spokeswoman for Queen's University said it "closely monitors any changes in law and teaching is reviewed accordingly".

"The University recognises that some graduates will work in other countries and the course content reflects this by exploring national and international perspectives on key health issues, including sexual health. Currently, medical and nursing students are educated on abortion as part of their studies," she said.

"Medical students are taught the legal framework for abortion in the UK and Northern Ireland.

"The content is aligned to the National Undergraduate Curriculum, which is drawn up by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and teaching is provided in lectures, small group discussions and online. The teaching covers the initial assessment, medical and surgical techniques, complications and after-care of patients who have had a termination of pregnancy.

"Nursing students work in gynaecology, sexual health clinics, general education as school nurses, accident and emergency departments and GP treatments rooms and a knowledge of the law is essential.

"Undergraduate students are required to attend a lecture, which is also supported by a tutorial which addresses the subject of abortion in detail.

"The students are also taught the law on abortion in Great Britain. Two post-registration modules are also available for postgraduate nursing students who are actively working in an area where more in-depth knowledge is required."

An Ulster University spokeswoman said it will also monitor any developments.

"Ulster University Nursing Students undertake a curriculum that is structured around the Person Centred Nursing Framework and the Nursing and Midwifery Council standards for pre-registration education," she said.

"As with any change in legislation and practices within Northern Ireland, our course content is updated to reflect these changes and our students work within the policies and procedures as set out by our practice learning partners."

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