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Northern Ireland: First Minister will resist commissioning of abortion services

Abortion
30 July 2021
2331

The First Minister of Northern Ireland, has said he will resist the UK Government's order to commission abortion services in the province.

Last week, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, directed Stormont to roll out full abortion services by next March at the latest. This was following new powers given to him by the UK Government earlier in the year to override the NI Executive.

Pro­found con­sti­tu­tion­al ramifications’

MLAs have warned that this move undermines the devolution settlement and the credibility of NI's political institutions.

Speaking to the BBC, Paul Givan said he warned the Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, not to take this action and was disappointed he had done so.

He said that issuing a direction on abortion provision had 'profound constitutional ramifications and to do it on this issue leads to the obvious question, will he do it on other issues?'

Powers chal­lenged in court

"It is my intention to resist what the secretary of state has done by way of direction and I have to look at all my options both politically and legally," Mr Givan told the BBC. He also said he was willing to go to court for refusing to follow this direction.

The Secretary of State's new powers are also being challenged in a judicial review, and one intervener is the mum of a little girl with Down's syndrome, who is arguing that the commissioning of NI's abortion services contributes to discrimination against her daughter.

Tim Martin, Director of CARE NI, commented:

'I'm so glad to see Paul having the courage to stand up for the unborn. We are all ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, in God’s image and should do all we can to protect and value life from beginning to natural end. Let’s continue to pray for Paul and all MLAs at this time.'

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