Belfast Telegraph

Jeremy Hunt criticised over taking credit for securing funds for NI abortion access

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt

By Staff Reporter

Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt has been slammed for taking credit for securing funding for women in Northern Ireland to travel to England to get abortions.

In 2017, Labour MP Stella Creasy tabled a parliamentary amendment that led to the funding being made available by the Government.

More than 1,000 women from Northern Ireland travelled to Great Britain for an abortion in 2018. A termination in Northern Ireland is only permitted if a woman's life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health. During a hustings event earlier this week, Jeremy Hunt, a former health secretary, was asked whether he would extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland if he became Prime Minister.

"As health secretary, I authorised funding for women in Northern Ireland who weren't able to get abortions," he claimed.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service dismissed his claim, pointing out that the Government Equalities Office provided the funding.

"We were very surprised indeed to see Jeremy Hunt claim that he authorised funding for women from Northern Ireland to access abortion care in England when he was secretary of state for health," a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.

"The funding for this scheme was made available by the Government Equalities Office in 2017, when the Government's hand was finally forced on this issue following a formidable cross-party campaign led by the MP Stella Creasy.

"Mr Hunt, as health secretary, had, prior to this point, held the power to enable women and girls to access funded care in England, but he chose not to use it - and indeed went to court to successfully contest a claim brought by a teenager and her mother from Northern Ireland, who had paid nearly £1,000 for care in England."

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