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Call for Westminster to put abortion legislation responsibility into NI hands

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Westminster will have its say on Northern Ireland's new abortion regulations

Westminster will have its say on Northern Ireland's new abortion regulations

Westminster will have its say on Northern Ireland's new abortion regulations

Anti-abortion campaigners in Northern Ireland have urged Westminster to give the Stormont Assembly a say over new abortion laws.

It comes after confusion around the new regulations last week, when it was reported that they were being withdrawn.

However the regulations were temporarily withdrawn to amend "typographical cross-referencing errors" and were reintroduced this week.

New regulations on abortion introduced on March 31 continue to apply in the interim.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis is required to submit regulations for Parliament’s approval after Westminster legislated to change abortion laws here last year.

MPs and peers will vote on the regulations sometime in the next month.

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The introduction of the legislation sparked widespread condemnation from pro-life campaigners and the DUP, but attempts to prevent it with a one-day return to the then-collapsed Stormont Assembly failed.

The new regulations have been criticised for going further than abortion laws in Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

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CARE (Christian Action, Research and Education) NI Chief Executive, Nola Leach

CARE (Christian Action, Research and Education) NI Chief Executive, Nola Leach

CARE (Christian Action, Research and Education) NI Chief Executive, Nola Leach

CARE (Christian Action, Research and Education) NI Chief Executive, Nola Leach said she was disappointed the regulations had been re-tabled without being brought back to the Assembly.

“The NI Assembly has been sitting now for months and abortion is a devolved policy area," she said

“Therefore today we are calling on MPs and Peers at Westminster to reject these regulations and hand responsibility back to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

“Our view remains that these regulations are badly drafted and are the wrong approach for Northern Ireland."

Mrs Leech said any changes to the abortion laws should be decided by Northern Ireland's politicians.

“While there might be a need for debate on abortion policy here in NI, the proper place for that debate is Stormont, not Westminster," she said.

“We would urge Assembly members not to let this issue go unchallenged and to press for time to be given for this very important social issue to be debated in the Assembly.”

Speaking last week a UK Government spokesperson stressed that the Government was legally obligated to introduce the new regulations.

The Government spokesperson said that reintroducing the regulations would give Parliament "an additional 28 sitting days to consider them".

“The UK Government remains under a legal obligation to implement these regulations under section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019," the spokesperson said.

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