Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Government to fund abortions for NI women in England

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Andrew Cummings | 30 June, 2017, 00:57

The government agreed today to fund abortions in England for Northern Irish women in an effort to see off a rebellion in a vote on the Queen's Speech.

Stella Creasy's call to give Northern Irish women access to terminations on the NHS in mainland Britain was dramatically passed by the government. The amendment received cross-party support from more than 100 MPs in the House of Commons, including conservative MP Peter Bottomley and Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas.

"It's wrong that women in Northern Ireland don't have the same access to abortion as women in England, Wales and Scotland, and the High Court has ruled this law contravenes human rights law - which is a responsibility of the UK Government, not a devolved matter". So the situation in Northern Ireland stays in theory as is, but in practice, women will be encouraged to travel to England to have an abortion at a cost of a million pounds a year to the British taxpayer.

"This is a landmark moment: for years the women of Northern Ireland, despite being United Kingdom citizens and taxpayers, have not been entitled to NHS-funded treatment".

In June a year ago, 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.

Stella Creasy and fellow MPs in support of the amendment, used the hashtag #mypledgeherchoice on Twitter to raise awareness.

"When will the government be making a statement on access to abortion in Northern Ireland?" she said.

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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.

Precious Life has condemned an announcement from the chancellor - that women from Northern Ireland will be able to get abortions on the NHS in England - as an "outrageous attack on democracy".

The Court of Appeal in Belfast on Thursday overturned an earlier landmark verdict that the Province's abortion law is incompatible with human rights legislation when it comes to women who are carrying babies with fatal foetal abnormalities, and women who were made pregnant via rape or incest. This came following a High Court ruling in 2015 that the law in Northern Ireland breached the European Convention on Human Rights which was appealed by both the Department of Justice and Northern Ireland's attorney general.

The UK government is obliged to protect the right of women and girls throughout all of the UK to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy.

I am writing to you regarding Amendment (d) selected as part of the Queen's Speech debate concerning abortions performed in England for women from Northern Ireland.

The amendment was just one challenge to the Queen's Speech being voted on today.

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