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Humanists UK welcomes abortion cost compensation for Northern Ireland women

A mother and daughter from Northern Ireland who were forced to travel to England for an abortion will receive compensation from the UK Government, after a settlement between the parties was agreed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Humanists UK intervened in support of the appellants when this case was heard before the UK Supreme Court in 2017.

The appellants, known as A and B, were forced to pay over £900 to access abortion services in England in 2012. This charge was only applied to women residents in Northern Ireland, where until recently abortion remained a criminal offence except in cases where the life of the mother was at risk. The case had been dismissed by the UK Supreme Court which ruled that the decision to impose or abolish charges was a political one. Subsequently, Humanists UK successfully campaigned for these charges to be abolished in 2017.

A and B pursued their case to the ECHR, arguing that forcing them to pay for a termination in England breached their rights to a private life under article 8 of the Human Rights Act and article 14 in terms of discrimination. However, the parties have now agreed to settle, agreeing that the UK Government will compensate the appellants for the cost of the treatment and contribute towards the cost of their legal fees.

Earlier this year, MPs passed legislation to compel Northern Ireland to provide legal, safe, and local abortions and remove the procedure from criminal law in Northern Ireland, which will come into force from March 2020.

Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator said: ‘We are delighted with the conclusion of this case. This case was an important piece of litigation that raised awareness of the lack of women’s sexual and reproductive rights in Northern Ireland and contributed towards the progress we have seen in recent years towards these rights being fully recognised in law.’


For more information contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or 020 7324 3078.

Read more about Humanists UK’s involvement with this case:

Humanists UK has long campaigned in defence of women’s reproductive rights and has intervened in the three other recent cases concerning Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws, A and B, NIHRC, and JR76. Its policies and approach to abortion are informed by its ethical position which supports a woman’s right to dignity and personal autonomy and accordingly to access a safe and lawful abortion with appropriate secular counselling and after-care should she choose to do so. It has successfully campaigned to oppose changes to the law in England and Wales that seek to restrict access to abortion. It is a member of the Voice for Choice coalition, the We Trust Women campaign, and the Back Off campaign. Its section Northern Ireland Humanists is a member of the Trust Women coalition, coordinated by Alliance for Choice.

Read about Humanists UK’s campaigning work on abortion:

Northern Ireland Humanists is a part of Humanists UK, working with the Humanist Association of Ireland. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefiting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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