End of free abortion in England for the women of Northern Ireland: has the controversial debate on harmonisation been rekindled?

Publié le : 16 May 2014
 The London High Court of Justice has just stopped free access to abortion for the women of Northern Ireland who, up to this point, have travelled to England for this procedure, taking advantage of the National Health Service. 

 

In fact, the 1967 Abortion Act does not apply in Northern Ireland, contrary to the rest of the United Kingdom. In Northern Ireland, abortion is permitted up to 9 weeks and if the mother’s life is threatened or if there is “a long-term risk to her physical or mental health“, compared to 24 weeks in England. According to the Belfast Ministry for Health, 51 people had an abortion in Northern Ireland last year with over 1,000 women travelling to England or Wales for this purpose.

 

This decision could rekindle the debate in Northern Ireland where voices on all sides fear that legislation could be brought into line with the rest of the United Kingdom. David Ford, Northern Ireland Justice Minister “recently promised a report on the possibility of amending the law on abortion in Northern Ireland for women carrying children with fatal deformities“. 

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