NI Abortion Law: First Stage Supreme Court Success
Our partner and public law expert, Angela Jackman, continues to fight for a change in the law regarding NHS funding for women from Northern Ireland who have to travel to England for terminations.
We previously reported on Angela's Northern Ireland abortion case
in which she is representing a young woman and her mother, who are known only as A and B, in their case to see a change in the law. A had to travel to England in 2013 for an abortion. Despite the family living on the breadline, they had no choice but to struggle to raise the sum of £600 for the abortion and an additional £300 for travel costs. They would have been unable to afford this without support from a charity.
It remains a serious concern that women in Northern Ireland who are UK citizens, cannot access abortion on the NHS in England despite the highly restrictive abortion laws in Northern Ireland
. The cost of funding travel and medical treatment is unaffordable to hundreds of women; many of those who manage to raise the funds do so at great personal and financial expense.
In July 2015, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal but made landmark rulings that human rights legislation applies to the circumstances of this case, contrary to arguments put forward by the Secretary of State. In particular, the judges held that Article 8 (right to private and family life) and Article 14 (right not to be discriminated against) are engaged.A and B continue to argue that the refusal to fund terminations on the NHS for women who are resident in Northern Ireland is an unlawful exercise of the Secretary of State's powers.
Angela states:"I am delighted that the Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal outright. We will now proceed with preparing for a substantive hearing at which the vitally important issues in this case can be fully aired."