Northern Ireland Court: Mom Can’t Make Tax-Funded NHS Pay For Teen’s Abortion in England

International   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Jul 22, 2015   |   9:52AM   |   Washington, DC

The Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland today has turned down the request of a teenage girl and her mother who wanted to travel to England for an abortion and have it paid for by the National Health Service (NHS).

The case was an appeal of the ruling last year which found that women resident in Northern Ireland and who travel to England for abortions are not entitled to have the cost of their abortion, transport and accommodation paid for on the NHS.

The strong pro-life sentiment that exists in Northern Ireland means that the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act has never been extended to the province and for this reason, it was not possible for the girl (known as claimant A in the case), and her mother (known as claimant B), to have access to abortion in Northern Ireland. Instead, they had to travel to the UK where the girl had an abortion. Her mother had previously told the court that she struggled to raise the money to pay for the abortion, but this did not sway the judge in his ruling.

Instead, he found that there was no reason to think that this was a discrimination case since the 1967 Act does not apply in Northern Ireland.  Equally, he said that the devolutionary powers that exist between England and Northern Ireland must be taken into account.  He also refused the claimants leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Keep up with the latest pro-life news and information on Twitter.

Today’s judgment is likely to be seen as a positive step by pro-life campaigners in Northern Ireland who have worked hard over the past number of years to oppose the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act into Northern Ireland.   That said, the challenges to the protection of unborn life continue.

More cases attempting to introduce abortion are expected but the result of this case is certainly a reason to give encouragement to pro-life activists.  Another reason to be hopeful is the government currently sitting – the Northern Ireland assembly is known to have a strong and vocal pro-life contingent which has no difficulty in making its views well known whenever there is a threat to the laws that protect unborn human life.