Northern Irish women to access free abortions in England by end of year
Northern Irish women travelling to England for an abortion will be able to access the procedure for free by the end this year.
The new plan, announced today by the UK government, will allow women to access free abortions under the NHS.
Northern Ireland is the only country in the UK where abortion is illegal.
The plan will ensure that abortion is free for women travelling from Northern Ireland at the point of delivery, rather than being paid for beforehand and then being reimbursed.
It will also cover travel and accommodation costs for women on low incomes.
This comes after over 100 MPs in the UK joined a demand for the NHS to fund abortion services.
Over 700 women travel from Northern Ireland to the UK for terminations every year.
This new scheme will ensure that they can access free abortion services organised through a telephone booking service which will put women in contact with clinics in England.
Mara Clarke of the Abortion Support Network has said that her charity is "thrilled" by the plan.
"ASN is thrilled by this move to reduce the huge financial costs associated with travelling for an abortion, which can often total up to £2,000.
"However, it is important to state that this measure will not help women who are unable to travel due to childcare issues, controlling partners, or because they are undocumented.
"This, like the services provided by ASN, is a sticking plaster But it’s a substantial sticking plaster.”
The plan will be in place by the end of this year.