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NI women 'not entitled' to free NHS abortions

Women from Northern Ireland (NI) are not legally entitled to free abortions on the NHS in England, the High Court has ruled. 

Two women launched a legal challenge against the current rules. Currently, more than 1,000 women travel from NI each year to have an abortion in other parts of the UK. 

The women are required to pay for transport, accommodation, and for the procedure itself. 

Abortions are only allowed in restricted circumstances in NI. Abortions are categorised as a criminal offence, which carry a life sentence. 

They are allowed only to save a woman's life, or if there is the risk of serious damage to mental of physical health. 

However, Justice King said that the health service in England does not extend “to persons who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland”. 

NI is not covered by the 1967 Abortion Act, meaning refusal to carry out abortions for women from Northern Ireland is not an issue of discrimination. 

Dawn Purvis, director of Marie Stopes Northern Ireland, told the BBC: "We are hugely disappointed that the women of Northern Ireland, who are citizens of the UK, remain unable to access the same services from the NHS as their mainland counterparts.

"The added layer of stress involved in finding the money to travel and pay for treatment can be crippling, making an already difficult situation for a woman that much tougher."