Parliament TV

Abortion result in Republic will not affect Northern Ireland, says DUP MP

Tue 29 May 2018
By Cara Bentley

Pro-choice campaigners in Northern Ireland are calling for a similar change to that just voted for across the border .

There was pressure on Theresa May on Tuesday from pro-choice campaigners to encourage Northern Ireland to make their abortion laws more liberal and in-line with the rest of the UK.

Currently the law in Northern Ireland says abortion is only legal if the mother is in serious danger, physically or mentally, or if her life is at risk. Although Northern Ireland is part of the UK, abortion is one matter which is devolved to the parliament in Stormont. 

The Conservative government in the UK are currently being propped up in a 'confidence in supply' system by ten Northern Irish MPs from the Democratic Unionist Party, who would not favour making terminations easier, meaning Theresa May could risk damaging her fine majority if she pushed for abortion to be easier.

The DUP leader, Arlene Foster said the referendum: "has no impact upon the law in Northern Ireland."

Jim Shannon, the DUP MP for Strangford, agreed with his leader's position. When asked if the mood had altered in Northern Ireland since the Republic of Ireland voted to legalise abortion, he told Premier: “If you listen to the media, you would say there has been but in reality, no, there hasn’t.

“I think it’s put an extra focus on it but it hasn’t changed the opinions of those in Northern Ireland who hold fast to what we have."

He added: “We don’t ignore the fact that the referendum has taken place in Republic of Ireland and we don’t ignore the fact that there has been a fairly strong vote in favour of change but we in Northern Ireland have our own minds to make up."

"We're not beholden to the Republic of I for their referendum, nor are we beholden to the rest of the United Kingdom for opinions which are different from ours as well."

Shannon explained that he thinks abortion law should only be changed by politicians in their parliament who represent the Northern Irish people directly. 

He described what the Republic has chosen as 'abortion on demand' and stated clearly that he did not want to make it any easier: "Today we have 100,000 people today who live because we have legislation in place that prevents abortion on demand."

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