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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Campaigners welcome Supreme Court’s decision not to compel NHS in England to pay for abortions for women from NI

14 June 2017


Pro-life campaigners have welcomed the decision by the UK Supreme Court not to compel the NHS in England to pay for the abortions of women travelling to Britain from Northern Ireland.

The ruling was made following a legal challenge brought by a Northern Ireland woman who took her daughter to Britain for an abortion in 2012. After an abortion at a commercial abortion centre in Manchester, she claimed that the policy of the Department of Health in England only to fund abortions for women resident in England violated her daughter’s human rights. She argued that the policy was discriminatory because the Abortion Act does not apply to Northern Ireland.

In a split decision of three to two, the judges agreed with the lower courts that the policy did not amount to unlawful discrimination and was not a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court said availability and funding of abortion in the Province was a matter for the democratic process within Northern Ireland and not the responsibility of the NHS in England.

Reacting to the ruling the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) which was formed in 1967 - the same year as the Abortion Act was passed, said that the whole case was based upon a distorted view of human rights.

Liam Gibson, SPUC’s Northern Ireland Development Officer, said:

"This case had no basis in genuine human rights. Instead this should be seen as a cynical attempt by the British abortion industry to get around Northern Ireland's legal protection for children before birth. It was about bringing in more customers from Northern Ireland. Every day in Britain there are about 550 abortions. The majority of these are carried out in commercial abortion facilities but they're paid for by the NHS. This arrangement has made abortion a multi-million-pound industry. Yet the number of women travelling from Northern Ireland for abortions in England has steadily declined over the past 10 years."

Statistics released 12 June 2017 by the Department of Health show that only 724 Northern Ireland women had abortions in England last year, less than half the number there were in 2001 and the lowest since the passage of the Abortion Act in 1967.

"Claims that access to abortion is a human right are entirely false. No such right has ever been recognised in any of the universal human right agreements, including the European Convention. The right to life, however, is the most fundamental of all human rights and this applies equally to all human beings regardless of their age or stage of development. International law also recognises that children need appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth," said Mr Gibson.

He added:

"This case was solely about money and who pays for abortion. Had the verdict gone the other way it would have led to the deaths of even more children and meant countless more women would have suffered the emotional and physical aftermath of abortion. While the Supreme Court was correct in its decision, this case simply ignored the 50 years of evidence that abortion hurts women."

Mr Gibson said: “Northern Ireland has steadfastly resisted every effort to implement the legalisation of abortion because this would inevitably result in killing of babies on a massive scale, just as it has in the rest of the UK.”

SPUC chief executive John Smeaton said:

"This year as we mark our 50th anniversary the right to life of unborn children in Northern Ireland is facing renewed threats from a series of court cases and from politicians pledged to introduce abortion."

Mr Smeaton added:

"Arguably our greatest achievement of the pro-life movement over the past 50 years has been the prevention of the extension of the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland but the battle is never-ending – as the current attacks on Northern Ireland’s DUP MPs for their stand on abortion are showing.

"When the Northern Ireland Department of Justice held a public consultation on proposals to liberalise abortion in the Province more than 97 percent of people rejected any change in the law.”

Mr Smeaton said:

"Pro-abortion groups promote abortion on a massive scale.  They want unlimited abortion.

"They want to establish the killing of babies as part of the health service and demand public funding of abortions.  The abortion industry in Britain makes a fortune because the NHS pays commercial abortion providers to kill babies.

"SPUC exists now for the same reason it was created in 1967. To protect human life from conception. To fight for the rights of those who cannot defend themselves. To give voice to the voiceless - the unknown, the unseen, the unheard. To make the world hear the silent screams of babies being killed on an industrial scale.

"Since the Abortion Act of 1967, an estimated 8.7 million unborn children have been killed in the UK - that’s almost FIVE times the 1.8 million population of Northern Ireland.

"There are around 200,000 abortions every year in the UK - that’s 550 every day. Almost all (98 per cent) carried out at the expense of the taxpayer.

"SPUC - and our pro-life allies - seek to uphold Article Three of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees the right to life so that unborn babies are not treated as 'non-persons'.

"The job of the pro-life movement in 2017 is to make the idea of stopping abortion completely in the UK completely normal – because it really is normal not to kill children.

Contact us

For further information contact Liam Gibson, Northern Ireland Development Officer on:

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