Women from Northern Ireland are not entitled to free abortions on the NHS in England, the High Court in London has ruled.
Unlike the rest of the UK, abortion in Northern Ireland is only allowed to save the life of the mother.
In his ruling, Mr Justice King said the Health Secretary’s duty to promote a comprehensive health service in England did not extend “to persons who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland”.
He said that the differences in the law between England and Northern Ireland had “not surprisingly led to a steady stream” of women travelling to England wanting abortions.
The court case was brought by a mother and her teenage daughter, who came to England from Northern Ireland for an abortion when she was 15-years-old.
Judge King ruled this was not a discrimination issue, as the 1967 Abortion Act does not cover Northern Ireland – the pair had argued that because she was a UK citizen, the abortion should have been paid for by the NHS.
Angela Jackman, who is representing the mother and daughter, said the case would be taken to the Court of Appeal.
In December last year, Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister David Ford announced that he would consult on weakening the Province’s abortion laws to allow unborn babies with fatal abnormalities to be aborted.
But Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, warned that termination of pregnancy for foetal abnormality also leads to severe post traumatic stress for the mother.
“Rather than leading to psychological well-being, termination of pregnancy for fetal disability is an emotionally traumatic major life event which leads to severe posttraumatic stress response and intense grief reactions that are still detectable some years later”, he said.
Liam Gibson, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) in Northern Ireland, said: “The people and politicians of Northern Ireland have shown, time and time again, that they reject pro-abortion attempts to change Northern Ireland’s abortion law.
“I am confident that they will do so again”