28 June 2017

Today, over 40 cross-party policymakers have signed a letter supported by sexual health charity FPA, BPAS, the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, calling on the Secretary of State for Health to remove the ban on NHS-funded abortions for women travelling from Northern Ireland.

This follows a narrowly-defeated appeal at the Supreme Court earlier this month challenging the existing policy. However, the Court did make it clear that the Secretary of State holds the power to end the current discriminatory two-tier system, which denies services to women in Northern Ireland that are freely available in the rest of the UK.

That’s why over 40 Members of Parliament (MPs), Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and peers have called for change. While continuing the campaign for change within Northern Ireland, these politicians are calling on Jeremy Hunt MP to use his unique ability to reduce the financial strain on women who are prevented from accessing abortion services at home.

Fawcett Chief Executive Sam Smethers said:

“Women from Northern Ireland deserve the same access to free NHS care in England as the rest of us. This isn’t about devolution, it’s about women’s human rights. The government needs to change its course immediately.”

Clare Murphy, bpas Director of External Affairs, said:

“It is a travesty that in the 21st century women in Northern Ireland are unable to access abortion care where they live. If they do not have the means to travel to England, women needing to end a pregnancy must order pills online, risking life imprisonment in the process. This is totally unacceptable.

While we wait for Northern Ireland’s political leaders to do what is right and provide care for women at home, we urge the Secretary of State to use the powers he acknowledges he has to provide funded care for these women, who are UK citizens and taxpayers, and deserve no less.”

Read more

Read the full press release, including statements from policymakers and a list of all signatories on the bpas website.

The Fawcett Society issued an open letter earlier this month to Prime Minister Theresa May, urging her to defend abortion rights in the UK ahead of the Government entering into a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, a political party in Northern Ireland that opposes abortion and LGBTQ+ rights.

Read the letter here