Thank you for contacting me about abortion in Northern Ireland.
Abortion remains a highly sensitive issue, regardless of where your view lies and one where it is important that the matter is considered with due care and sensitivity.
I understand that the Irish referendum has undoubtedly reinvigorated debate within Northern Ireland, but it is important to be clear that the referendum was specific to Ireland, where a change to their written constitution requires a referendum. The referendum now allows for legislation amending Ireland’s abortion law to be debated and passed through both Houses of the Oireachtas.
As you may also be aware, the Supreme Court has also recently rejected an appeal by human rights campaigners over the legality of Northern Ireland’s abortion law. This is clearly a complex area of law, and an extremely sensitive subject matter, which raises a number of different issues to consider. I understand that the Government is carefully considering the full judgment.
I support the Government’s belief that any future reform in Northern Ireland must be debated and decided by the people of Northern Ireland and their locally-elected politicians. This has been the position of successive Governments, both Conservative and Labour.
I very much therefore welcome the Secretary of State’s recent commitment to work closely with Northern Ireland’s political parties to restore strong, inclusive devolved government at the earliest opportunity.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.