‘“There are currently no plans to intervene in the Northern Ireland abortion law debate”, the Prime Minister has said. Such a statement denies women citizens of Northern Ireland, who require an abortion, the opportunity to receive safe medical care, dignity and compassion. In fact, it not only denies them access to such care but it ignores their need for it.
It would be foolish to not recognise that the political situation makes this an incredibly difficult journey to undertake, but as complicated as it is its most definitely a necessary one.
May’s spokesman has said that the only way legislation can come into force is through legislation from the devolved assembly because it has responsibility for health. The problem is, of course that the Stormont legislature hasn’t sat for 16 months.
If Theresa May is to pursue this line (that change must come from within Stormont) then the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland must work with great urgency to facilitate the restoration of the legislature. It’s simply not good enough to make a dismissive statement like “it was a matter for the devolved Northern Ireland Government”.
The current stale mate can’t continue. Northern Ireland must change its laws on abortion and do so urgently.
I campaigned in the Irish refferendum last month and was obviously pleased with the result. I wrote about my experience for the New Statesman, and the article is available online which you can read here. Now that the eighth amendment in Northern Ireland will be repealed the focus inevitable turns to Northern Ireland where the pressure to change the law will rightly increase.