NI Abortion Law: Law Changes will not Address All Women as Landmark Case Heads to Court of Appeal


Proposed changes to abortion law in Northern Ireland will not address the needs of hundreds of pregnant women forced to travel to the UK mainland each year and pay hundreds of pounds for a termination.

Angela Jackman seeks justice at The Court of Appeal

Angela Jackman, a partner at Simpson Millar LLP will represent a young woman and her mother, known only as 'A & B' at a landmark case in the Court of Appeal tomorrow. Currently, abortion in Northern Ireland is only legal in exceptional circumstances if the life or long-term health of a pregnant woman is at risk. However, following the case of Sarah Ewart, who was forced to travel to England for an abortion as her unborn baby was due to die in her womb, the Northern Ireland Justice Minister made recommendations in April 2015 to initiate new legislation. The new legislation recommended to the Northern Ireland Executive would have allowed for termination of pregnancies in fatal foetal abnormality cases, but it is understood the proposals have been blocked.

Angela comments:

"It is disappointing that these welcome and humane proposals appear to have been scuppered for those women who would have benefitted from them. In any event, the situation of women in the position of the appellants in the A and B case would not have been altered by the proposed limited changes. Justice Minister David Ford made it clear that his intention to revise guidelines to practitioners would not even include any attempt to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland in cases of rape, for example."

"Therefore, the issue of Northern Irish women having to travel to England for abortions remains live and crucial for hundreds of women each year."

Angela is taking the landmark case of A & B to The Court of Appeal which she hopes will allow women from Northern Ireland to receive free NHS abortions in England. The case is brought by (A) and her mother (B) who travelled from Northern Ireland to Manchester for A’s abortion where the operation cost £600 on top of travel costs of £300.

The case failed at the High Court last year but as it heads to The Court of Appeal on Tuesday 9th June 2015, Angela concludes: "The Court of Appeal will be considering A and B's appeal and we will continue to argue that the policy of the Secretary of State for Health in England in refusing abortions on the NHS for women from Northern Ireland is perverse and unlawful".

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