Northern Irish MPs back 12 week abortion limit

Tom Griffin
21 May 2008

Tom Griffin (London, The Green Ribbon): BBC Northern Ireland's Mark Devenport picked up a potential West Lothian issue ahead of last nights Commons vote on the Embryology Bill: 

One of our local MPs told me he was getting some flak from English MPs. He said they took the view that if Northern Ireland MPs wanted to interfere in the time limits for abortion in England, then maybe English MPs should interfere in the ban on abortion here.

In the event, the majority of Northern Ireland MPs who take their seats were not deterred. 6 of the 9 DUP MPs and all 3 SDLP MPs voted to cut the time limit for abortion to 12 weeks. The change would not have affected Northern Ireland where the 1967 Abortion Act does not apply.

Recent reports that the Act could be extended provoked the united opposition of the North's four main parties. Although abortion is currently a reserved matter, Ministers have said it will become the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly once policing and justice is devolved.

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