Stella Creasy leads call for Theresa May to act on Northern Irish abortion laws

Stella Creasy leads call for Theresa May to act on Northern Irish abortion laws

Monday, May 28, 2018

Stella Creasy is leading a lobbying effort in parliament to pressure Theresa May into relaxing Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.

About 160 MPs including Ruth Cadbury, Labour MP for Walthamstow and Conservative Sarah Wollaston, have backed Creasy’s calls for a vote on the matter, which she wants to bring about by tabling an amendment to the forthcoming Domestic Violence bill.

But the Conservatives’ relationship with the anti-abortion DUP could mean that May will not intervene, as she relies on their support for a majority.

Creasy tweeted her disapproval of DUP leader Arlene Foster’s stance, writing: “The only woman currently exercising choice over abortion in Northern Ireland is Arlene Foster - she chooses to put having seat at table in Westminster above the desire for change from local community to make sure all women have equal access to reproductive rights.”

Read more: Why one woman is travelling home to vote in the Irish abortion referendum

Now that the Republic of Ireland has repealed the Eighth Amendment, Northern Ireland is the only place in the UK where abortion is illegal and punishable by imprisonment.

It is only permitted in cases where the mother’s life is in danger - pregnancies from cases or rape or incest, or fatal foetal abnormalities, are not considered grounds for a termination.

In a statement after the Irish referendum result, which saw a landslide 66.4% vote in favour of repealing, Foster said:

“Friday's referendum has no impact upon the law in Northern Ireland, but we obviously take note of issues impacting upon our nearest neighbour.

Read more: 'I'm a Yes voter, but my father is voting No'

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

Labour MPs Dawn Butler, Tony Lloyd and Shami Chakrabarti have all stated their position that Northern Irish women should have the same abortion rights as those in the UK, and they want to bring this about by working with the Northern Irish Assembly.

But there is no devolved government in Northern Ireland, as the DUP and Sinn Fein are unable to reach a consensus.