U.K. Government Debates Changing Northern Ireland’s Abortion Laws
10 June, 2018, 16:20
Many Conservative lawmakers say that the law in Northern Ireland should be brought into line with the rest of the United Kingdom, but DUP leader Arlene Foster is committed to maintaining the province's strict abortion laws.
Supreme Court Justice Mance held that the "present legislative position in Northern Ireland is untenable" and "clearly needs radical reconsideration". "What we need is compassion and services in Northern Ireland".
The U.K. Supreme Court ruled Thursday it had no right to decide whether Northern Ireland's strict policy limiting abortions breached European human-rights laws, heading off a potential fallout between U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party and her alliance partners.
The issue is further clouded by the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly, a power-sharing regional government set up by the 1998 Good Friday accord.
DUP chief whip Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said 100,000 people are alive in Northern Ireland today because the Abortion Act 1967 was not accepted.
Because of Northern Ireland legislation, newly-wed Sarah travelled to London for a termination at her own expense, with flights and hotels included, of more than £2,100.
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Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph.
"That is why the Government, like its predecessors, believes that the best forum to debate and resolve these and many other matters is a locally elected Northern Ireland Assembly, so the Government's priority remains to urgently re-establish strong, inclusive, devolved government at the earliest opportunity".
"This is a landmark decision that I hope will lead to changes that will improve the lives of women in Northern Ireland and the care they receive".
"The Supreme Court has recognised that denying women access to abortion in these circumstances in inhuman and intolerable".
The human-rights commission argued that the province's abortion laws were incompatible with the ECHR rules, which protects the right to terminate pregnancies in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities, rape and incest. She added that the issue has "long been devolved" to Northern Ireland and outside the purview of the parliament in Westminster. Amnesty is calling for the repeal of sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which would decriminalise abortion and enable a Human Right compliant healthcare framework to be put in place.
However, the republican party is due to consider whether to change to support unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks at its ard fheis (party conference) later this month.
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