'Landmark moment' as Government agrees to fund abortions in England for women arriving from Northern Ireland

Stella Creasy. Picture by PA
Stella Creasy. Picture by PA
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Charities have welcomed the Government's decision to fund abortions in England for women arriving from Northern Ireland as a "landmark moment".

Chancellor Philip Hammond made the announcement as pressure mounted on the Government and its wafer-thin majority, which is reliant on the support of the anti-abortion Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The move looks to have seen off the threat of Tory MPs helping to pass an amendment by Labour's Stella Creasy to the Queen's Speech, which would have put the Northern Irish DUP in an awkward position in the final Commons vote on the Government's legislative programme.

Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland except where the life or mental health of the mother is in danger.

Reacting to the news a spokeswoman from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) said: "We are absolutely delighted that the Government has committed to funding abortion care for women who travel from Northern Ireland to England.

"This is a landmark moment: for years the women of Northern Ireland, despite being UK citizens and taxpayers, have not been entitled to NHS-funded treatment.

"Clearly this is not the solution to the gross injustice whereby women in Northern Ireland are denied access to abortion care at home, and we look forward to seeing progress on that front. Nevertheless this is an important moment, and we commend all those who have worked so hard to make this happen."

A spokesman for abortion provider Marie Stopes UK said: "Any action on the situation facing women seeking abortion in Northern Ireland is both welcome and long overdue. As UK taxpayers, women in Northern Ireland should be fully entitled to access NHS treatment free at the point of care, including abortion services.

"This is a hugely positive step forward, but there is no reason why these services shouldn't be provided in Northern Ireland, saving thousands of women each year the cost and stress of travelling to the mainland. Until that becomes reality, we look forward to working closely with Government to ensure women travelling from Northern Ireland receive the equitable NHS treatment they deserve."