Life

A Northern Irish teen is taking the NHS to court over abortion law

Posted by
Hayley Spencer
Published

After being forced to pay a reported £900 to abort an unwanted pregnancy five years ago, a Northern Irish teen is taking on the NHS.

The teen, known as A, and her mother, B, will appear in Supreme Court to challenge the law which prevents women from their region from having NHS-funded abortions.

The court will hear how in 2012 “A traveled to Manchester from Northern Ireland with her mother (B), where she paid £600 for an abortion, on top of £300 in travel costs."

Without a donation of £400 from the Abortion Support Network, the woman, who was 15 at the time, would not have been able to afford a safe and legal abortion.



According to The Guardian, the pair's lawyers will argue that the refusal to provide free abortions for in their region women is "perverse and unlawful." They will also suggest that by failing to make abortions free for all UK citizens, Jeremy Hunt is failing in his responsibility to make NHS procedures reasonably available.

As it stands, abortions for women in Northern Ireland are illegal unless the pregnancy is likely to put the mother's life at risk. And earlier this year a bid for the termination law to include cases of fatal foetal abnormalities and pregnancy via sexual crime was rejected.

The mother-daughter duo have already been heard at High Court and Court of Appeal, but their challenge was unsuccessful. However, they've now been granted permission to appeal to supreme court.

Angela Jackman who has been representing A & B through their battle told The Guardian: “For women in Northern Ireland who are pregnant and seek a termination, the status quo is almost unbearable. I believe the legal arguments of the secretary of State are perverse and contrary to its international obligations.

"Many women face the choice between an unlawful termination using dangerous and illegal pills, with the prospect of prosecution to follow, or a costly journey to England where they must pay privately for an abortion. For many women, those costs are prohibitive.”



In their bid to defend Northern Irish women's rights for reproductive choice via access to NHS-funded abortions, the two women will be backed by six charities.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the Family Planning Association, Alliance for Choice, Abortion Support Network, Birthright and the British Humanist Association have all been allowed permission to give their opinions on the case.

The BBC reports that one-day hearing is taking place today. Fingers crossed this could finally be a catalyst to change to abortion laws for Northern Irish women.

Photo: Rex Features