Belfast Telegraph

Jeremy Hunt urged to allow free abortions for Northern Ireland women

By Staff Reporter

A mother and daughter who lost a legal bid for women from Northern Ireland to receive free abortions on the NHS in England have urged the Westminster Government to intervene.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has the statutory power to ensure women from Northern Ireland have access to free terminations in England.

Following their recent defeat in the UK's highest court the women's legal team has now written to the Health Secretary asking him to exercise that power.

Their lawyer said it would be "right, humane and appropriate" to ensure the services are available on the NHS in England "without delay".

In the letter the women's solicitor Simpson Millar asks the Health Secretary to take note of the Supreme Court's "sympathetic" judgment to them.

"We write to urge the (Health Secretary) to consider exercising his statutory power as described by the Supreme Court to ensure that women from Northern Ireland can access abortion services in England on the NHS," said Mr Millar.

He added: "The plight of women from Northern Ireland seeking abortion services in England is such that it would be right, humane and appropriate to take the necessary steps to introduce regulations and directions to ensure that these services are available on the NHS in England without delay."

The Health Secretary has been asked to respond to the request within 14 days.

Recently the Supreme Court rejected the women's case against the Health Secretary by a majority of just three to two.

The 20-year-old woman at the centre of the appeal was 15 in October 2012 when she and her mother travelled from Northern Ireland to Manchester and were told she had to pay hundreds of pounds for a private termination because she was excluded from free abortion services.

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