Government to fund abortions for NI women in England

Glen Mclaughlin
June 30, 2017

It has previously been reported that some Northern Irish women have had abortions from NHS Scotland by giving an address of a Scottish friend.

Earlier this year The Debrief went to Belfast to meet Northern Irish abortion rights activists.

NI abortion ruling a victory for democracy.

As Minister for Women and Equalities, I share the concerns of many colleagues about the experience of women from Northern Ireland obtaining an abortion through the NHS in England.

Ian Paisley Jr., a lawmaker from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, told the Commons he believed "this is not a matter for Belfast, this is a matter for NHS England".

Unlike other parts of the United Kingdom (which have allowed a more relaxed approach to abortion since 1967) terminations are only legal within Northern Ireland to protect the woman's life or if there is a risk of serious damage to her mental or physical health. Mr Justice Horner found that the ban on terminations of pregnancy in cases of sexual crime (rape and incest) and where there are fatal foetal abnormalities violates women's right to personal autonomy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The appeal judges have voted in favour of the Attorney General and Department for Justice, and said that it is not up to the courts to decide abortion law.

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Anyone who performs an illegal termination could be jailed for life. Little wonder that the charity Abortion Support Network calls the criminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland "a class issue. a restriction which only hurts poor people. refugees, homeless people, people in abusive relationships, young women, old women. It means the most to those of us who can afford it the least" Naomi added. Northern Ireland only allows abortions if the woman's life is in danger or there is risk or permanent mental or physical damage.

The Government Equalities Office, coupled with the UK's Department Of Health, will be receiving additional funding to make this possible.

In June previous year, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that the Scottish Government was willing to consider paying for abortions for women from Northern Ireland on the NHS in Scotland. In front of a packed courtroom, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, Lord Justice Gillen and Lord Justice Weatherup quashed the High Court declaration. "The judges had a chance to put right centuries of human rights abuse but with a flick of the pen they've just let down another generation of women and girls in Northern Ireland". "This should include the decriminalisation of abortion, so that women are treated as patients, not potential criminals". In terms of reproductive rights, they are second-class citizens.

A 2008 move to extend the 1967 act to Northern Ireland was blocked by Harriet Harman, then Leader of the Commons.

The concession was welcomed by Ms Creasy, who withdrew her amendment without putting it to a vote, on the basis of the Government's assurances.

The minority Conservative government was under pressure to ensure free abortions for Northern Irish women since it entered into a "confidence and supply agreement" with Northern Ireland's DUP party, which largely opposes abortion.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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