Nicola Sturgeon may offer Northern Irish women free abortions in Scotland

Posted On: 
18th June 2017

Nicola Sturgeon is considering allowing Northern Irish women to obtain free abortions on the NHS in Scotland. 

Nicola Sturgeon holding a press conference in Bute House this week
Credit: 
PA

At the moment women in Northern Ireland can only legally have an abortion if a strict set of criteria are met, including a serious risk to the mother's physical or mental wellbeing.

Earlier this week the Supreme Court narrowly rejected a claim from hundreds of Northern Irish women, who argued they should be entitled to free abortions on the NHS in England. 

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Hundreds of women travel to England each year, spending up to £2,000 each to have treatment in private hospitals. 

But the First Minister is now consulting on how her government may be able to offer the service free on the Scottish NHS.

“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 judgment and the implications it may have in Scotland.”

The DUP, with whom Theresa May is still seeking a parliamentary pact, are strongly opposed to any change in the law. 

They have already unsuccessfully lobbied Ms Sturgeon's government to try to stop Northern Irish same-sex couples from getting married in Scotland.