Northern Ireland women ‘may get abortion free in rest of UK’

Belfast Telegraph, Friday, 26 October 2012  by Liam Clarke

Women in Northern Ireland could potentially have free abortions in other parts of the UK at NHS discretion, it has emerged.
Previously it was thought that this would not be allowed because abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland — a position set out in a Commons statement by ex-NIO Minister Paul Goggins in 2009.
But in a new twist to the raging abortion debate in Northern Ireland, an apparent change of policy has emerged in an answer to a parliamentary question by Lord Laird this week.
The Department of Health’s Lord Howell told the UUP peer that “it is a matter for each Primary Care Trust (PCT) to consider, in exercising this duty in relation to abortion services, whether treatment for women resident in Northern Ireland seeking an abortion in their area should be provided.”

Audrey Simpson of the Family Planning Association — which is campaigning for a clarification of abortion law here — said its lawyers are studying the statement, adding: “A test case is a possibility but initially we are seeing what can be achieved by negotiations with the Primary Care Trusts.”

Read more: