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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

22 MAY 2014

R (A and Another) v Secretary of State for Health [2014] EWHC 1364 (Admin)

R (A and Another) v Secretary of State for Health [2014] EWHC 1364 (Admin)

(Queen's Bench Division, King J, 8 May 2014)

Abortion - State funding - Northern Ireland resident - Judicial review

Please see the attached file below for the full judgment.

The application for judicial review of an NHS policy not to fund services ie abortion which were not provided in Northern Ireland was dismissed.

The 15-year-old girl, from Northern Ireland, travelled to England to have her pregnancy terminated at an independent clinic after the implementation of revised statutory arrangements for the provision of services under the National Health Service Act 2006. The same residence-based system remained in place but the Secretary of State applied a policy that as a general rule the NHS should not fund services for residents of Northern Ireland which the Northern Ireland Assembly had deliberately decided not to provide and which would be unlawful if provided in Northern Ireland. The girl and her mother issued judicial review proceedings to challenge the policy.

The application was dismissed. The Secretary of State was entitled to have regard to the statutory position that primary responsibility for the physical and mental health of residents of Northern Ireland lay with the authorities there and that those residents should be expected to access relevant services from the health service of that jurisdiction. The approach under s 3 of the Act had been lawful.

The fact that abortion services in Northern Ireland were far more limited could not render the Secretary of State's decision unlawful.

The human rights challenge to the policy could not succeed. Although it was an established principle that legislation regulating the interruption of pregnancy touched upon the sphere of private life, there was no right under Art 8 of the European Convention to an abortion or a State-funded abortion.


Case No: CO/656/2013

Neutral Citation Number: [2014] EWHC 1364 (Admin)





Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL


Date: 08/05/2014





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The Queen on the application of A (by her litigation friend B)
and B



- and -



 The Secretary of State for Health



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Mr Stephen Cragg QC and Dr Austen Morgan (instructed by Maxwell Gillott Solicitors) for the Claimants

Mr Jason Coppel QC (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor's Department) for the Defendant


Hearing dates: 10th and 11th July 2013 plus further written submissions of 8th August, 11th November and 28th November 2013.

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