July 2017 – Abortion for Northern Irish Women

July 2017 – Abortion for Northern Irish Women

Thank you for contacting me about Northern Irish women gaining access to NHS-funded abortions in England.

I recognise that this is a very delicate and sensitive issue. I understand that the provision of abortions is a devolved issue. Devolved NHS authorities are responsible for providing healthcare to those resident in their regions.

However, following a recent Supreme Court judgement, which outlined the law surrounding the provision of abortions to Northern Irish women in England, the Government has announced that payment for abortions for Northern Irish women in the NHS will be met by the Government Equalities Office with additional funding.

This development does not alter the fact that the provision of abortion in Northern Ireland is a devolved issue, and the responsibility of politicians in Northern Ireland. The funding of NHS abortion services for Northern Irish women by the Government Equalities Office ensures these women safe access to legal abortions in England, without compromising the devolution of NHS services in the UK.

Thus, for those constituents who have written to me requesting I support an amendment to the Queen’s Speech which would require the Government to provide such funding for legal abortions in England for Northern Irish women, this decision and announcement have rendered that amendment moot.  Indeed, the amendment’s proposer, Stella Creasy MP, chose to withdraw her amendment and announced to the House that she was satisfied that its purpose had been achieved by the announcement.  I hope those who wrote to me will similarly welcome this quick action.

Following the decision by the UK Government to fund NHS abortions for Northern Irish women, the Welsh Government has stated that it intends to follow suit, and is investigating the means in which to do so.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.