Abortion Rights Blog

The national pro-choice campaign

Abortion Rights response to NI women not entitled to free abortions in England

It is deeply disappointing that the High Court has ruled that women from Northern Ireland are not legally entitled to abortions provided by the NHS in England because women from Northern Ireland are not covered by the 1967 Abortion Act. This is yet another obstacle put in the way of women who make the decision to terminate a pregnancy from obtaining a safe legal abortion. An unjust law has been used to justify an unfair ban on women accessing NHS services. The cost of travelling to the UK for women from Northern Ireland is in itself prohibitive, with the cost of travel, accommodation and obtaining a private abortion estimated at £400 – £2000. NHS provision of sexual health and abortion services is already woefully inadequate in England with over half of terminations carried out in private clinics under NHS contracts, and a quarter of all women paying for private terminations due to the waiting time for an abortion through the NHS. Yet this doesn’t have to be the case, in Scotland almost all abortions take place under the NHS. For women, this postcode lottery of the right to determine what happens to our bodies belongs to the bygone era of paternalism. It’s time for our politicians to stand up for the prochoice majority. Over 75% of people agree with a woman’s right to choose an abortion and we will not be bullied or intimidated by a small vocal minority of anti abortion zealots. It is time to decriminalise abortion and give women who live in Northern Ireland the right to access services including abortion as part of wider sexual and reproductive healthcare services. It is also time to end the postcode lottery of NHS abortion services and require the NHS to provide safe legal abortions wherever we live, while women should have the right to choose and pay for an abortion privately, all women who want to do so should be able to access abortion services funded by the NHS.