#GPnews: Government to fund abortions for Northern Irish women in England

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where the 1967 Abortion Act does not

Rather than risk more Tory MPs joining a rebellion, raising the prospect of a Government defeat, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced ministers had found the cash needed.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), which brought the legal challenge, is now considering whether to take the case to the UK Supreme Court.

But in June the Supreme Court ruled that women from Northern Ireland can not get free NHS abortions in England - a decision that maintains the current arrangement of private-only abortions.

The devil is in the detail, however, as Labour MP Creasy pointed out this morning.

Bernadette Smyth concluded, "While Precious Life maintain that taxpayer's money should not be used to pay for the killing of any unborn child, we reiterate even more so that taxpayer's money should not be used to fund NHS abortions for women from Northern Ireland where abortion is a criminal offence".

Grainne Teggart, a campaigner at Amnesty International in Belfast, said: "Today's court ruling is an utter betrayal of women in Northern Ireland who find themselves in these tragic circumstances".

Grainne Teggart, Northern Ireland Campaign Manager for Amnesty International, said it was "an important step for women's rights and towards ending the ludicrous situation where women and girls in Northern Ireland are denied the right to healthcare that those in the rest of the United Kingdom can take for granted". Northern Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe and it is nearly impossible for a women to have an abortion legally there.

Theresa May's Government has been urged to intervene over abortion laws in Northern Ireland after ministers agreed a £1 billion deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop-up her minority administration.

May's government doesn't have enough seats to govern alone, making it dependent on the backing of the DUP, the biggest party in Northern Ireland.

Extra funding will be provided to cover the costs of the abortions.

"We first raised this issue in 2013 and remain as concerned today in 2017 that the law as it stands does not protect women and girls right to be free from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment", NIRHC Chief Commissioner Les Allamby said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that the Secretary of State for Health is not legally required to provide abortion to Northern Irish women free of charge.

"What I can tell honourable members is the department for equalities and the Department of Health are discussing and looking very closely at this issue today".

Commons Speaker John Bercow confirmed he has selected the amendment to the Government's legislative programme, meaning MPs will have a chance to vote on it at the conclusion of the Queen's Speech debate.


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