All women should have the right to access a safe, legal abortion. At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto which committed to ensure this right and to work with the Northern Ireland Assembly to extend this right to women in Northern Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland recently voted to overturn its ban on abortion. This is welcome vote for women’s rights. Following this historic vote, focus has now turned to Northern Ireland where abortion law differs to the rest of the UK.
In Northern Ireland, abortion is currently illegal, other than in cases where the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life or if there is a permanent or serious risk to the mother’s physical or mental health. The UK Government has consistently stated its view that because abortton is a devolved matter, the law in this area is a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly.
I want to see devolved government re-established in Northern Ireland. However, in its absence, the UK Government must act to uphold the human right to access an abortion.
It is an injustice that some women in the UK are being denied access to a safe, legal abortion. Women in Northern Ireland should have the same rights as those in the rest of the UK and should not have to travel to Great Britain or face potential prosecution and imprisonment at home. Opinion polling by Amnesty International has found that almost 60 per cent of people in Northern Ireland support the decriminalisation of abortion.
I will continue to support efforts to extend to women in Northern Ireland the right to choose.