Belfast Telegraph

MPs push to make abortion available to women from Northern Ireland

By Linda Stewart

MPs from across the political spectrum have tabled an amendment to the Queen's Speech arguing that abortion should be available on the NHS to women from Northern Ireland.

The amendment to the speech was tabled by Labour MP Stella Creasy with the support of the Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley and calls on the Government to consider legislating for women from Northern Ireland to have NHS provision when they travel to England to seek a termination.

It comes after a Supreme Court ruling earlier this month that women from here were not entitled to free access to abortions on the NHS, a judgment that was handed down just as talks began on a deal between the Conservative Party and the DUP.

Walthamstow MP Ms Creasy said parties need assurances not only that any pact with the DUP would not affect current equalities law, but that it would not tie the Government's hands when future legislation is needed.

"In this Parliament it is not just a matter of whether hard-won progress on issues like inclusive sex and relationship education or access to services for same-sex couples will be under attack by this coalition, but also what issues don't get addressed and are ignored," she said.

However, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) branded the amendment "opportunistic".

Liam Gibson of SPUC said: "The proposed amendment to the Queen's Speech has nothing to do with the welfare of women in Northern Ireland.

"Its real purpose is to promote the financial interests of the British abortion industry, which has been steadily losing customers from Northern Ireland for the last 15 years.

"Only 724 women from the province had abortions in Britain in 2016, less than half the number in 2001. Yet around 200,000 abortions take place every year in Britain and the vast majority of these are carried out by commercial providers, like BPAS and Marie Stopes International. These businesses are then paid by the NHS for each abortion."

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