Women in Northern Ireland will get abortion funding

NHS Northern Ireland
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Women from Northern Ireland will be able to get NHS abortions in the UK, after backing from MPs.

Over 50 MPs from major political parties agreed with the call for Northern Irish women to get free abortions in England.

The concession follows a proposed amendment to the Queen’s Speech, requesting more funds for women forced to travel to England to get an abortion.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond has backed the concession, stating that the Minister for Women and Equalities would be making an announcement “by way of a letter to members of this House explaining that she intends to intervene to fund abortions in England for women arriving here from Northern Ireland”.

He concluded that he hoped the House would find it a “sensible way of dealing with this challenge”.

Currently, women in Northern Ireland have to pay, as the abortion law is strict. Incidents of incest, rape and foetal abnormalities are not circumstances in which abortions can be performed illegally.

Northern Irish women could only have an abortion if their life was at significant risk through childbirth or a serious risk to their health.

As reported by the BBC, Marie Stopes UK said it was “a hugely positive step forward, but there is no reason why these services shouldn’t be provided in Northern Ireland, saving thousands of women each year the cost and stress of travelling to the mainland”.

If women in Northern Ireland needed an abortion previously, they could travel to England to have one privately, but wouldn’t be granted one free on the NHS. This change was backed by the UK Supreme Court earlier in June.

The policy change has also been welcomed by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which said it was a “landmark moment: for years the women of Northern Ireland, despite being UK citizens and taxpayers, have not been entitled to NHS-funded treatment”.

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