The NHS Abortion Hurdle Race Continues



Professor Marie Fox and Dr Sheelagh McGuinness

“The Abortion Act 1967 does not extend to NI where abortion is still primarily regulated by an 1861 statute. This has been interpreted to permit abortions only in cases where continuance of pregnancy threatens the life of the pregnant woman or poses a ‘real and serious’ risk of ‘permanent or long-term’ harm to her physical or mental health. Last week the High Court affirmed the position that Northern Irish women are not entitled to NHS-funded abortion care in England.”

Read full opinion

Have your say

  • Claire
    1. At 3:48PM on 16 May 2014, Claire wrote

    It is not always a woman's choice to conceive but every woman should have the choice whether or not to procreate. With emergency contraception having a very short time frame and for some, it not even being an option, Abortion is sometimes the only alternative.

    I can appreciate by first hand observation the abuse of the healthcare system and fully understand why some treatments are classed as non-urgent secondary care, but as highlighted in the case of Savita some cases are urgent. To be told 'it is the law, you are in a Catholic country' just days before her preventable death indicates the need for change in NI law.

  • Jonathan
    2. At 5:02PM on 28 May 2014, Jonathan wrote

    Excellent article. The discrimination faced by women from Northern Ireland in terms of abortion rights is quite frankly a disgrace. Whatever one thinks about abortion ethically, no problems are solved by preventing women from getting abortions due to nationality. It merely causes more women in A's situation to seek underground (and unsafe) abortions.

  • DJ
    3. At 3:55PM on 03 June 2014, DJ wrote

    200,000 abortions each year in the UK, 1 in 5 pregnancies, around 8,000,000 lives lost since 1967. Do you want NI to go the same way? There is no such thing as a safe abortion, a human being is always killed.

  • TM
    4. At 5:40PM on 03 June 2014, TM wrote

    Having a termination to save the life of the mother is legal in both Northern and Southern Ireland. Were it the case that Savita Halappanavar died after being refused a termination (and I believe the inquiry found that it would not have saved her life) then this would be a case of medical malpractice and not a result of the current abortion laws.

    Moreover, the overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland do not support an extension of the 1967 abortion bill. Look at our 4 main political parties; all of them oppose abortion and this reflects the views of the majority here.

    In addition, the current law in the rest of the UK can hardly be seen to be a model for NI to follow; the so called 'restrictions' on abortions have led to a system of abortion on demand up to 28 weeks and up to birth in the case of the disabled (this term encompassing problems as easily treatable as a cleft palate or a club foot). Indeed given the recent scandal of sex-selective abortions across England and Wales it is perhaps high time that Westminster reconsidered their own laws rather than calling upon us to change ours.