UK Parliament to hold emergency debate on Northern Ireland abortion laws

The Eighth Amendment referendum result has fuelled calls for change in the North

UK Parliament to hold emergency debate on Northern Ireland abortion laws

Picture by: Harriet Line/PA Wire/PA Images

The UK Parliament is set to hold an emergency debate on abortion in Northern Ireland today.

The region will soon be the only part of the UK and Ireland where terminations are still banned - unless there is a serious risk to a woman's health.

Last month’s landslide ‘Yes’ result in the Eighth Amendment Referendum fuelled calls for change in the North.

A number of British MPs have warned that Northern Ireland’s abortion restrictions are “unsustainable” in the wake of the referendum result.

However the Democratic Unionist Party - which is propping up Theresa May's government - is against any reform.

The three-hour emergency debate was called for by British Labour's Stella Creasy - who warned her fellow MPs that “stopping abortion provision does not stop abortions.”

“It simply increases the risk of a woman either having to make a degrading and lonely journey overseas or forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy,” she said.

“Or worse - risking buying pills online that may not be safe.”

Political impasse

Mrs May has faced increased pressure to step in and act in the absence of a devolved Government at Stormont.

She would have to override opposition from her DUP allies in any attempt to reform the law from London.

Her minority Government relies on the support of the DUP – and the party is strongly opposed to any reform.

Downing Street has previously indicated that it views any reform as "an issue for Northern Ireland."

Abortion

DUP MP Ian Paisley said Northern Ireland "should not be bullied into accepting abortion on demand."

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill has noted that it would be her preference for the decision to be taken in Northern Ireland.

However, in the absence of a government at Stormont, she has warned "we have to find a way to deliver rights."