Court rejects appeal for free NHS abortions for NI women

The Court of Appeal in London has upheld a ruling that the NHS in England is not required to provide free abortions to women from Northern Ireland.

Lord Justice Moore-Bick, Lord Justice Elias and Lord Justice McCombe rejected a challenge to the High Court’s decision made last year.

The case was brought by a mother and her teenage daughter, who travelled from Northern Ireland to England to have an abortion in 2012.

Entirely logical

In May 2014, Mr Justice King ruled at the High Court that state-funded abortion is not a human right and that there had been no breach of anti-discrimination laws.

Lord Justice Elias, one of the Court of Appeal judges, said the Health Secretary is not obliged to extend free abortions to women from Northern Ireland.

“It is entirely logical to provide a range of NHS services throughout the UK on the basis of local residence requirements”, he said.

Not compelled

He said the fact that Northern Ireland “does not provide these services because it still considers that abortion should, in most circumstances, be illegal does not compel the Secretary of State to take a different approach to women from that area”.

The mother and daughter’s legal team said they would be seeking to take the case to the Supreme Court.

Currently abortion in Northern Ireland is allowed only to save the life of the mother.

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