Poorer women in Northern Ireland who come to England to have an abortion will now be able to claim money for travel and accommodation.
Equalities minister Justine Greening announced the shift on Monday, following campaigning by pro-choice groups.
Abortion is only legal in Northern Ireland if a woman’s life is at risk or if there is a serious or permanent risk to her physical or mental health. Many women are forced to travel to access abortion services, continue with unwanted pregnancies or try to obtain abortion illegally.
The government was forced to allow women from Northern Ireland to access abortion services for free on the NHS earlier this year. Together with this week’s announcement the changes will make a real difference to many women’s lives.
But they only came about because ordinary people organised to demand them—and should encourage us to fight for more. Greening’s announcement means that women who earn less than £15,276 a year will be able to claim for travel and accommodation costs. But access to abortion services shouldn’t be rationed or means tested.
And 50 years on from the 1967 Abortion Act, it must be extended to Northern Ireland. Every woman should have the right to choose.