From The Guardian: Theresa May will oppose plans to let MPs vote to liberalise Northern Ireland’s oppressive abortion laws, Downing Street has signalled.
The landslide vote in favour of liberalising abortion laws in the Irish Republic has put the spotlight on Northern Ireland, which will be the only place in Britain and Ireland where abortion is in most circumstances illegal. The 1967 Abortion Act was never extended to the region, and abortion is only allowed if the life or mental health of the mother is at risk.
From Human Rights Watch: The UK government just took an important step in announcing – following a campaign and under pressure from parliament – that the National Health Service (NHS) will carry out abortions at no cost to pregnant women and girls from Northern Ireland who travel to England for the procedure. The decision follows a recent UK Supreme Court judgment that, under devolved health services, women living in Northern Ireland aren’t entitled to free abortions on the NHS in England.
But while the government announcement is positive, it is also a partial and unsatisfactory solution to a problem that should not exist. Women and girls should be able to access safe abortion in Northern Ireland, and the UK government has failed in its obligations to fulfil this right there for too long.
Abortion has been legal in most of the UK since 1967, but the law explicitly excluded Northern Ireland, where it remains criminalized except when the health or life of the woman is at grave risk – denying thousands of women their reproductive rights.