Theresa May to oppose MPs’ vote on Northern Ireland abortion law
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.
Vince Cable, the Lib Dem leader, said on Sunday that the deadlock in Northern Ireland meant that the Westminster government was entitled to take the initiative. “In Northern Ireland women have suffered from antiquated, inhumane criminalisation for far too long. Theresa May cannot remain silent on this issue. Since there is, effectively, direct rule from Westminster, the UK government has the responsibility. It can and should take the opportunity to deal with this issue properly,” he said.
In the past polls have revealed strong support in Northern Ireland for relaxing abortion laws in at least some circumstances, although not to the extent allowed in the rest of the UK.
But the Democratic Unionist party, the largest party in Northern Ireland, strongly opposes liberalisation. At the weekend the #DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr tweeted: “NI should not be bullied into accepting abortion on demand … The settled will of the people has been to afford protections to the unborn life and protect the life of the mother.”