Over 130 MPs press to relax NI abortion law

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International. 'Picture: Pacemaker, Arthur Allison.

More than 130 MPs and peers have signed a letter calling for women to have access to abortions in Northern Ireland rather than having to travel to England.

The cross party group is sending the letter to the Minister for Women and Equalities, Amber Rudd.

Signatories include Ken Clarke, Justin Greening, Nicky Morgan and Pritti Patel, the BBC reported.

The letter has been spearheaded by Labour MP Stella Creasy and Amnesty Northern Ireland’s Grainne Teggart.

Ms Teggart said it was “hugely significant” that the letter had such strong cross party support at Westminster at such a senior level.

In October, the government announced that it would offer support with travel costs for Northern Ireland women in receipt of less than £15,300 per year.

It reiterated that the move did not change the ban on abortion in Northern Ireland, which remained a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly to decide.

But the Christian Action Research and Education (Care) group said the plan “significantly undermines the rule of law in Northern Ireland”.

There has been a 14% rise in women from Northern Ireland having free NHS abortions in England since charges were abolished by the government last June, the BBC said.

Some 553 women have had abortions in England in the past eight months, the two largest abortion providers told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.

This compares with the 483 who had private abortions, costing them up to £1,400, over a similar period in 2016. In 2016, 724 women from Northern Ireland had had abortions in England, the Department of Health said, equivalent to 483 in eight months.

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