Abortion Rights Campaign welcome UK government funding of NI abortions; condemn Belfast Appeal Court ruling

UK Government Funding Of Abortions For Northern Ireland Is Welcome, But Ruling By Belfast Appeals Court Disappointing, Say Abortion Rights Campaign.

The Abortion Rights Campaign welcomes today’s unprecedented news that the UK government will fund abortions for women and pregnant people travelling from Northern Ireland. However, the campaign condemns today’s ruling by the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal that the current restrictive abortion regime does not violate the human rights of women and girls.

Reacting to the vote in the House of Commons today, Clare Lanigan, spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) said, “Today’s announcement is an improvement of the situation for the hundreds of women forced to travel from Northern Ireland every year to access healthcare, however continuing the status quo of denying people access to abortion at home is not acceptable.”

Ms Lanigan noted that the vote today in the UK Parliament is in sharp contrast to the ruling this morning in the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal: “The original High Court rulings of 2015 and 2016 made clear that the current state of affairs in Northern Ireland as regards abortion is unacceptable under European law and a violation of human rights, but today’s ruling is a step backwards for human rights in Northern Ireland.”

“The political parties in Northern Ireland cannot continue to ignore the human rights violations it has stood over for generations, especially now that the House of Commons has agreed to allow women and pregnant people travelling from Northern Ireland free access to abortions in England under the NHS.”

“Despite the removal of the cost barrier for the procedure, remaining costs of travel, accommodation, childcare and visas for those who need them act as significant and sometimes insurmountable barriers to accessing abortion. Additionally, there are many reasons why a person may not be able to travel to access abortion, so removing the cost barrier addresses only part of the problem and for only some people.”

Ms Lanigan concluded, “It is clear Northern Ireland’s lack of abortion access violates the European Convention of Human Rights. We already know that 72% of people in Northern Ireland want change to the current law, so today’s court ruling goes against the democratic mandate of the people.”

“The Abortion Rights Campaign will continue to support our allies working for change in Northern Ireland, including Alliance for Choice, the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign and the Abortion Support Network. Women’s lives are more than just pawns in a political game.”