| 12.4°C Belfast

Government spends £1m so women from Northern Ireland can access abortions

Close

Over £1m was spent in a year by the UK Government to allow women from Northern Ireland to undergo abortion procedures in England

Over £1m was spent in a year by the UK Government to allow women from Northern Ireland to undergo abortion procedures in England

Over £1m was spent in a year by the UK Government to allow women from Northern Ireland to undergo abortion procedures in England

Over £1m was spent in a year by the UK Government to allow women from Northern Ireland to undergo abortion procedures in England.

Approximately £1,080,000 was allocated to cover the cost of abortion procedures, travel and accommodation in the 12 months to April 2019.

The figures were revealed by Social Care Minister Helen Whately in response to a parliamentary question by Conservative MP Fiona Bruce.

A total of 1,053 women from here had an abortion in England in 2018/19, an increase of 192 from the previous year.

Catherine Robinson from anti-abortion group Right To Life UK urged Stormont MLAs to bring forward legislation to repeal "the extreme change to the law in Northern Ireland".

She called on Westminster to introduce policies that support women to keep their babies.

Meanwhile, there is anger among the pro-choice lobby that the Stormont Executive has not set up termination services.

Strict abortion laws in the region were overturned on March 31 following a change to the law voted in at Westminster last year.

Decisions have not yet been made by Stormont officials on how to put the new legislation into practice.

Women in England will be able to have a medical abortion at home using termination pills during the coronavirus lockdown period.

That option has not been made available to women here.

The Department of Health had intended that women continue to travel to England for terminations.

However, restrictions on travel due to the coronavirus crisis have placed the arrangement into difficulty.

The Executive discussed the issue yesterday. Afterwards Health Minister Robin Swann said: "It was discussed at the Executive today and the decision is with the Executive."

Alliance for Choice expressed frustration and claimed Stormont is "blocking" abortion services.

Naomi Connor, Alliance for Choice co-convenor in Belfast, said: "The World Health Organisation notes that abortion is essential healthcare in a pandemic, and yet the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Health in NI have found it acceptable to do absolutely nothing, except to release videos extolling travel to England for treatment, when the reality of clinic accessibility is limited to an eight-hour each-way freight ferry with no companions and only for those who are not quarantined or self-isolating."

DUP MP Carla Lockhart spoke of her alarm at the idea of abortion pills being taken in the home without medical supervision.

Belfast Telegraph