Government to fund abortions for NI women in England

Peter Robinson Ulster Scots and Irish must be given same respect

Government to fund abortions for NI women in England

It is what campaigners from Northern Ireland - and other places around the world where this basic right is restricted - have been crying for decades.

The justice department and the NI attorney general challenged the ruling.

In fact, it reflects the Labour manifesto position on the question, which was simply to impose English abortion laws on Northern Ireland.

On Thursday, three appeal judges allowed an appeal against the lower court's ruling that abortion legislation was incompatible with the UK's Human Rights Act obligations. However, it indicated that if it received an application to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court in London by Friday it would be minded to grant such an appeal.

Abortion is heavily restricted in Northern Ireland, it is nearly impossible for a women to have an abortion legally there. The Court has held that the draconian abortion laws pass legal muster even in the most extreme cases - including where women are pregnant as a result of rape or incest.

The punishment for breaking the law is life imprisonment.

Later in the day, the Human Rights Commission did confirm that it will indeed appeal. It cross-appealed and re-introduced all of the original grounds it brought before the High Court. Worldwide human rights bodies have repeatedly made clear that criminalisation of health services which only women require, including abortion, is a form of discrimination against women and girls.

She said: "This has been a great victory here, a victory for democracy, a victory for the right to life".

He also argued that there was no proper basis for a doctor to say a foetus had a fatal abnormality.

The amendment, tabled by Labour lawmaker Stella Creasy with the support of a Conservative colleague Peter Bottomley, calls "on the government to ensure the provision of adequate funding and guidance so that all United Kingdom citizens including those from Northern Ireland may access medical services including abortion procedures in England if they so wish without charge, and that such provision does not interfere with decisions made by the Northern Ireland Assembly with regard to the provision of such services in Northern Ireland".

Ministers were facing a headache when senior Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley gave the amendment his formal backing.

The concession came ahead of a vote on the issue in the Commons. The decision follows a recent UK Supreme Court judgment that, under devolved health services, women living in Northern Ireland aren't entitled to free abortions on the NHS in England.

Ms Creasy asked him: "The figure of £1,400 is what Northern Irish women were having to spend to get an abortion here in England and therefore it is welcome that the Government is now saying that they will correct this injustice".

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