United Kingdom: The Supreme Court denies Ireland free abortion

Publié le 19 Jun, 2017

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom rendered its judgement in a case involving the Secretary of State for Health, accused of denying women living in Northern Ireland free access to Abortion in England. With a majority of 2 out of 3, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal.

The judges were asked to adjudicate over the case of a 15-year-old English women, living in Northern Ireland, who got pregnant in 2012. As abortion is prohibited in Northern Ireland, she went to Manchester to terminate her pregnancy. The act was not refunded by the National Health Service (NHS)


The young girl decided to go to Court, claiming this refusal to reimburse her was unlawful. The high Court and the Court of appeal both rejected her request. The Supreme Court has just confirmed the ruling.


In its reflection, the court assessed whether the decision of the Secretary of State for Health had been taken according to a fair balance between the rights of the claimants and the rights and interests of the community as a whole. Besides, it pointed out the fact that the claimants and participants had submitted excessive international documentation thus “exerting pressure on the court” in the hope of gaining better access to abortion.


Considering the will of the Secretary of State for Health to remain faithful to the usual scheme of distinguishing the contribution made by the free health system in every one of the four countries and the democratic decision taken in Northern Ireland concerning abortion services, the Court considered the decision taken as fair.


The claimant could take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).


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