NICOLA Sturgeon plans to offer free abortions to women who travel to Scotland from Northern Ireland, in direct opposition to the Government’s would-be political allies the DUP. A Scottish government spokesman told the Sunday Times: “We are supportive of all women having access to safe and legal abortions.”We will carefully consider [the] Supreme Court judgement and the implications it may have in Scotland.”
Currently terminations in Northern Ireland are only permitted if there is a serious risk to the women’s life or health. Terminations of pregnancies arising through instances of rape or incest remain outlawed. Hundreds of pregnant women travel from Northern Ireland to England every year, paying up to £2,000 for an abortion at a private clinic. The SNP is keen to continue its unnofficial policy on terminations for women for Northern Ireland, but is concerned any consultation on the Supreme Court ruling might “disrupt” the current practice and make access harder. The First Minister was backed by Abortion Support Network founder Mara Clark, who said she would “love it” if Sturgeon took action.
The possible intervention by Ms Sturgeon is likely to put her on a collision corse withe the DUP, which opposes any relaxation of abortion laws. Neither would it be the first time the First Minister has defied the right-wing party, after she ignored DUP calls for her to stop same sex couples from Northern Ireland being allowed to marry in Scotland. The DUP’s hardline anti-abortion stance appears to be out of step with the majority of Northern Irish residents.Last week a survey found 78 per cent of people in the country thought abortions should be legal if a woman became pregant through rape or incest