18/11/2016

Scotland May Offer NI Women Free Abortions

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would explore the possibility for women in Northern Ireland to travel to Scotland to have an abortion free of charge.

During First Minister's Questions at Holyrood, Green co-convener Patrick Harvie said: "Many women in Northern Ireland find themselves left with no option but to travel elsewhere in the UK to access legal and safe abortion.

"The time and the stress that this costs them is bad enough but there are also significant financial barriers, with some organisations supporting these women estimating that at the low end it costs them at least £400 and in many other cases more than £2,000.

"Does the First Minister agree that the NHS in Scotland should be exploring what can be done to ensure that these women are able to access abortion in Scotland, if that's where they chose to travel to, without facing these kind of unacceptable financial barriers?"
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Mrs Sturgeon said: "I am happy to explore with the NHS what the situation is now in terms of the ability of women from Northern Ireland to access safe and legal abortion in NHS Scotland and whether any improvements can be made.

"Like Patrick Harvie, I believe that women should have the right to choose, within the limits that are currently set down in law, and that that right should be defended.

"When a woman opts to have an abortion—I stress that that is never, ever an easy decision for any woman—the procedure should be available in a safe and legal way. That is my view. Patrick Harvie asked me to explore a particular issue for NHS Scotland and I am happy to do so.

"I certainly agree that no woman should ever be stigmatised for having an abortion. No woman ever wants to have an abortion; there will be a variety of circumstances in which a woman finds herself in that position, and I absolutely agree that safe abortion is of paramount importance.

"I also agree that abortion should never be seen in isolation — it is a part of healthcare, and delivering abortion safely is a fundamental part of healthcare."

(CD)

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