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Philip Hammond announces NI women will be given free abortions in England

The Act did not extend to Northern Ireland.May’s government doesn’t have enough seats to govern alone, making it dependent on the backing of the DUP, the biggest party in Northern Ireland. Women in Bradford, Bangor and Bathgate can access services which women in Belfast cannot.In this case however it was the parliamentary numbers that made the difference.”I am happy to explore with the NHS what the situation is now in terms of the ability of women from Northern Ireland to access safe and legal abortion in NHS Scotland and whether any improvements can be made”, the First Minister said at the time, in response to a question from Green party co-leader Patrick Harvie MSP. Worldwide human rights bodies have repeatedly made clear that criminalisation of health services which only women require, including abortion, is a form of discrimination against women and girls.Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland in all cases except where a woman’s life is under direct threat from continuing with a pregnancy.The DUP deal with the Conservatives has elevated the refusal to allow Northern Ireland women free abortions in England under the NHS into a real issue in the House of Commons. It’s a welcome step and will potentially have an immediate impact on widening access to basic healthcare for United Kingdom citizens who have always been denied this right.It comes after an amendment was proposed for the Queen’s Speech, which asked the Government to ensure there was adequate funding for women from Northern Ireland. As well as those who travel, there are many women who do not – often for financial reasons.Lord Justice Gillen stressed that the courts should be cautious about interfering in such a complex and controversial issue touching on social, moral and religious policies on which there is no consensus in Europe or within Northern Ireland. “These people might not have visas, passports, money or the support network to travel to England”. They have been awaiting two decisions today, one in Belfast and one in Westminster. A Government spokesman said Scottish ministers had been considering the implications of the Supreme Court ruling. However, in a blog post, she said: ‘It is time in my view for pay restraint to be loosened but that can not be done without a clear plan for how it will be funded’. Even terminations of pregnancies arising through rape or incest are outlawed. It is for the Northern Ireland Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly to decided on their policy going forward. Recognising his comments would provide no comfort to women in Mrs Ewart’s position, he added: “Whatever its defects in the eyes of some, or perhaps many, the current law provides a measure of certainty and legislative accountability”. As UK taxpayers, women in Northern Ireland should be fully entitled to access NHS treatment free at the point of care, including abortion services.