Scotland and Wales also to fund abortions for women from Northern Ireland
5 July 2017
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly have both said that they will follow the UK Government in offering free abortions for women from Northern Ireland.
In a sudden government u-turn last week, the Government announced that the Equalities Office would fund the costs of abortions for women normally resident in Northern Ireland, but it was thought that this only applied to England.
Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones was asked in the Assembly yesterday if he intended to follow the decision made in Westminster. He responded: "The answer to the question is yes. That’s what we want to do. We’re looking at the detail of how that can be done... what we’re looking to do is to make sure that Wales, England and Scotland offer the same service."
Meanwhile, the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said her government would set out its own policy to ensure women from Northern Ireland did not have to pay for terminations.
"The first minister has already made clear that the Scottish government would look into the provision of abortion in Scotland to women from Northern Ireland," a Scottish government spokesman said. "The Scottish government’s view is that abortion should be part of standard healthcare for all women, and available free from stigma. The Scottish government believes that a woman from Northern Ireland, in Scotland, should be able to access an abortion for free on the same basis as women in Scotland and we will set out shortly how that can be achieved."
No respect for devolution
Responding to the news, John Deighan, the CEO of SPUC Scotland, said:
"This is a disgraceful decision. Nicola Sturgeon's government prides itself on distancing itself from that of the UK, but it is quite willing to ape its decisions when it comes to ending the lives of Northern Irish babies.
"This also makes her aspirations for an independent Scotland seem completely hypocritical - she wants respect for Scotland as an autonomous nation, but has absolutely no respect for the laws and beliefs of a fellow devolved nation. This move, both by the UK government and by the Scottish government, completely undermines the democratic will of the people of Northern Ireland, who have proved time and time again that they want to protect the unborn.
"Abortion is not healthcare, and as a compassionate society we should be looking at better solutions to crisis pregnancy - solutions in the best interests of both mother and child."
The news came as DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr told Parliament that his party would not compromise its pro-life position. "I want to make it absolutely clear that, in my view and in the view of the people in my party and on this bench, the rights of the unborn child trump any political agreement that has been put in place."
News in brief: