Scottish Govt wants to give NI women free abortions
19 June 2017
The Scottish First Minister is looking to provide abortions for Northern Irish women on the NHS.
Scotland is considering offering free abortions to women from Northern Ireland, it was reported yesterday.
According to the Sunday Times, Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, is examining ways to offer abortions on the NHS, along with Catherine Calderwood, the country’s chief medical officer.
It comes as the Supreme Court decided last week not to compel the NHS in England to pay for the abortions of women travelling to Britain from Northern Ireland.
"We are supportive of all women having access to safe and legal abortions," a Scottish government spokesman told the Sunday Times.
"We will carefully consider [last week’s] Supreme Court judgement and the implications it may have in Scotland."
The statement is a repeat of remarks made by Nicola Sturgeon in November during First Minister's Questions at Holyrood. When Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie asked what could be done to ensure that Northern Irish women could access abortion in Scotland without facing "unacceptable financial barriers", Ms Sturgeon told the chamber: "I am happy to explore that with the NHS. To explore both what the situation would be right now in terms of accessing safe and legal abortion for women from Northern Ireland within NHS Scotland and whether there's any improvements that are able to be made."
The paper also says that some Northern Irish women already obtain free abortions by giving the address of a Scottish friend as their own, which medics turn a blind eye to.
Undermining NI democracy
John Deighan, CEO of SPUC Scotland said: "It would make no sense for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP Government to finance abortion from women in Northern Ireland.
Such a policy would be completely contrary to calls for respecting the autonomy of a nation. How the SNP could square that with their own aspirations for an independent Scotland is beyond reason.
It would also be another waste of precious NHS resources, which I’m sure Scots would prefer to see being used for those most in need, the sick and frail, rather than terminating healthy lives."
Ignoring the toll of abortion
Clare Bremner, who works as a counsellor for the Abortion Recovery Care Helpline, commented at the time of Nicola Sturgeon's original remarks, saying "The woman's plight doesn't end with the abortion, so we could ask the Scottish Government if it would take responsibility for the counselling and support for women grieving, distraught and traumatised by their abortion experience?"
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