In Brief

Northern Ireland abortion: Irish vote puts pressure on Theresa May

Senior Tories urge the Prime Minister to back reform of Northern Ireland’s strict abortion law

Theresa May is facing growing calls to allow a referendum on liberalising abortion in Northern Ireland after the Republic voted overwhelmingly in favour of widening access to terminations.

Senior Conservative MPs, including Women and Equalities minister Penny Mordaunt, have joined Labour and the Liberal Democrats in calling for Northern Ireland’s abortion laws to be reformed.

Northern Ireland has one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, with terminations prohibited unless there is a serious risk to the mother’s mental or physical health.

More than 140 MPs are now said to be prepared to back an amendment to the domestic violence bill, coordinated by Labour MP Stella Creasy, to allow abortions in Ulster, the Daily Mirror reports.

“That could be the vehicle that allows MPs to hold a historic vote in Westminster,” the newspaper says.

But DUP leader Arlene Foster, whose party props up Theresa May’s government, said the result of Friday’s referendum in Ireland would have “no impact” on the province.

"The legislation governing abortion is a devolved matter and it is for the Northern Ireland Assembly to debate and decide such issues,” she said.

Downing Street echoed her comments, with a spokesperson arguing that this “very sensitive issue highlights the pressing need to restore a fully functioning executive” in Stormont.

But as Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government for 18 months, pressure is growing on May’s government to intervene.

The issue is now “out of Stormont's hands due to the continuing stalemate - and pro-choice campaigners will be focusing their fight at Westminster, which presents a major headache for the Prime Minister,” says the BBC’s Jane McCormack.

“May will have to walk yet another political tightrope,” she adds. “She won't want to upset the DUP and risk her parliamentary majority but the growing pressure from within her own party and across Parliament on this issue means she will have to do something.” 

Infographic by www.statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk.

Recommended

‘Never before have all the main engines of European integration caught fire simultaneously’
Angela Merkel and Ursula von der Leyen in the European Parliament
Instant Opinion

‘Never before have all the main engines of European integration caught fire simultaneously’

How many people need to be vaccinated against Covid to get life back to normal?
Margaret Keenan becomes the first patient in the UK to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine
In Focus

How many people need to be vaccinated against Covid to get life back to normal?

Five things we learned from Sturgeon’s testimony to Salmond inquiry
Nicola Sturgeon gives evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee
Why we’re talking about . . .

Five things we learned from Sturgeon’s testimony to Salmond inquiry

Will children be vaccinated against Covid?
Children of key workers attend school during the third national lockdown
Getting to grips with . . .

Will children be vaccinated against Covid?

Popular articles

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 March 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 March 2021

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Line of Duty series six returns to BBC One in 2021
In Depth

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

Are Harry and Meghan pushing it with their request for press privacy?
Harry and Meghan
The latest on . . .

Are Harry and Meghan pushing it with their request for press privacy?