On the fiftieth anniversary of the legalisation of abortion in England, Wales and Scotland, the British Government revealed its intentions on Monday to provide a free abortion service in England for women from Northern Ireland where abortion is still illegal, except in very limited cases.
In June, the English Government announced that the NHS would already cover these abortion costs (see United Kingdom: abortion now free for women from Northern Ireland and Free abortions also available in Scotland and Wales for women from Northern Ireland ). Yesterday, the Government agreed to finance the travel and accommodation expenses of women from Northern Ireland with an income of less than £15,276.00 or those receiving allowances. The women will also have access to a central telephone reservation system to organise the appointment with a health professional in England.
In 2015/2016, 16 abortions were performed in Northern Ireland. In 2015, 833 women travelled from Ireland to England to have an abortion.
The Right To Life organisation has denounced the “extraordinary intervention of the British government in decentralised Northern Ireland issues”, believing that these measures are intended to encourage “the most materially vulnerable women on the lowest income to have an abortion (…) without offering any alternative assistance should they chose to keep their babies”.
The new system should be in place before the end of this year.
The Guardian, Jessica Elgot (23/10/2017) ; BBC (23/10/2017) ; Afp (24/10/2017)