Today at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Theresa May insisted that abortion law in Northern Ireland was a devolved matter.
She went on to say that the proper place for a debate about abortion provision in NI was the Northern Ireland Assembly, a pointed response to MPs who want Westminster to interfere.
The PM was answering to a question from Labour MP Thangham Debbonaire, who asked if the PM would support legislation in the name of Diana Johnson which would see extreme abortion laws introduced allowing for abortion anytime, anywhere, for any reason across the UK.
You can watch the exchange below:
Why this matters
In Northern Ireland, unlike the rest of the UK, abortion is only allowed when the mother’s life is at risk. This is because NI never adopted the 1967 Abortion Act. Robust research from Both Lives Matter shows that thanks to NI’s life-affirming laws, 100,000 people are alive today who would otherwise be dead.
Abortion provision in NI is the responsibility of the NI Assembly because it is a devolved issue. However, there are some MPs who want Westminster to interfere by imposing abortion law change by by-passing the NI Assembly.
The PM’s answer suggests that for the moment, the British Government continues to aim at respecting devolution, rather than seeking to undermine it.