Chancellor: Government to fund abortions in England for women from Northern Ireland

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

Mrs Miller said: "When will the Government be making a statement on access to abortion in Northern Ireland?". Women in Bradford, Bangor and Bathgate can access services which women in Belfast cannot. Women can be jailed for life, as can doctors who perform abortions. 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.

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.

"The question of women from Northern Ireland accessing abortions in England is not one of whether they should have that access, it's a question of devolution and the fact that health is devolved to Northern Ireland and therefore it's the question of who should pay for it". It's a welcome step and will potentially have an immediate impact on widening access to basic healthcare for United Kingdom citizens who have always been denied this right.

Sir Peter Bottomley, who backed the amendment, asked Mr Hammond whether "only the poor" women of Northern Ireland "should be denied lawful abortions".

Belfast's Court of Appeal quashed that ruling on Thursday following a challenge by Northern Ireland's justice department and attorney general, concluding that abortion legislation should be a matter for Northern Ireland's provincial assembly. "These people might not have visas, passports, money or the support network to travel to England".

However, the arrangement has come under scrutiny after the Prime Minister Theresa May agreed a £1bh deal with the 10 MPs from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up her minority government.

However, in an unusual move the court invited legal submissions for the case to go to the Supreme Court. In 2015 the High Court ruled that the current law in Northern Ireland is incompatible with women's human rights. This may not the end of the matter as it could end up in the Supreme Court.

The Department of Justice argued there was a lack of legal certainty in it which could lead inadvertently to abortion on demand.

All eyes now turn to Westminster, where the signs are more promising.

Following Stella Creasy's attempt to amend the Queen's speech, the government has offered a new commitment to fund abortions for Northern Irish women on the NHS in England and Wales. This would be a significant step in the right direction.

The letter followed the Speaker selecting an amendment to the Queen's Speech relating to access to abortions. "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".

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