Northern Ireland Woman Denied NHS Abortion Services in England Granted Leave to Appeal

Dated:   

Simpson Millar, which acted for A and B in their case against the Secretary of State for Health, is pleased to announce that Lord Justice Laws has granted the Appellants permission to appeal in this landmark case. The appeal should be heard by the end of January 2015. The appellants are challenging the Department of Health’s policy of refusing to fund abortions on the NHS for women from Northern Ireland who travel to England for these services.

Their high court application, which was refused by Mr Justice King in May 2014, attracted national media coverage. Following the disappointing decision, the appellants instructed their solicitor to seek permission to appeal.

Angela Jackman, solicitor for the appellants, states:

“I am very pleased with this decision which paves the way for crucial issues on reproductive rights to be considered fully by the Court of Appeal."

“This is an important issue for many thousands of women in Northern Ireland and there have been recent calls in Parliament for changes in the law. We have consistently asked the question, why should women from Northern Ireland have to pay for this health service in England despite being UK citizens? And what are women in Northern Ireland who need terminations supposed to do if they cannot afford to pay privately for the service in England?”

The claim arises from the fact that Claimant A (who was a minor at the time, and whose identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons) had to travel to England in October 2012 with her mother, Claimant B (whose identity is also protected). Claimant B struggled to part-raise funds for her daughter to have a termination privately in England. Abortion law in Northern Ireland meant that it was impossible to have the termination there. The Secretary of State’s policy is to rely on the legal position in Northern Ireland in refusing to allow women resident in Northern Ireland to have terminations on the NHS in England.

Recent statistics show that during 2011 over 1,000 women from Northern Ireland travelled to England for privately funded abortions, given the legal situation in Northern Ireland.

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