Belfast Telegraph

Emergency Commons debate for Northern Ireland's abortion law

An emergency debate on Northern Ireland's abortion law will take place in the House of Commons.

Speaker John Bercow said the debate would last up to three hours, and confirmed it would go ahead on Tuesday as the first item of public business.

An application for the debate was put forward by Labour MP Stella Creasy, who proposed a discussion of repealing the Offences against the Person Act.

The Offences against the Person Act - known as OPA - was written in 1861 and makes it a crime for woman to cause her own abortion.

The 1967 Abortion Act stopped its application in England and Wales, but it remains in place in Northern Ireland.

Speaking before the Commons on Monday evening, Ms Creasy said repealing the legislation would respect the autonomy of the devolved Assembly, and leave Northern Ireland free to make its own laws.

"Those members who may agree that it is a woman’s right to chose, but wish to see the Assembly chose, can be reassured," she said.

"Repealing OPA (Offences Against the Persons Act) gives us the opportunity both to respect devolution and to respect women.

"Because the people of Northern Ireland cannot be held hostage to the ups and downs of the Brexit negotiations, the deals done in a hung Parliament, or the stalls in the talks in Stormont.

"By repealing OPA we as the UK parliament can show women across the UK we trust them all with their own healthcare, wherever they live."

On Tuesday it was reported Theresa May had discussed the issue of abortion in Northern Ireland with her Cabinet colleagues, with pressure to reexamine Northern Ireland's abortion laws in the wake of the Republic's landslide vote last month to remove the section of the Constitution blocking a liberalisation of legislation.

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