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Still time for Robin Swann 'to do his job' in abortion row


Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International

Amnesty International has welcomed the Secretary of State laying new regulations compelling Stormont to implement abortion laws but has said it is still not too late for Robin Swann "to do his job".

DUP MP Carla Lockhart condemned Brandon Lewis' intervention at Westminster as "a retrograde step and an over-reach".

Mr Lewis will assume the new power when the regulations come into force on March 31.

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International said: "Yet again, women and girls in Northern Ireland have been failed by the inaction of Stormont ministers.

"Once again, action at Westminster is necessary to ensure abortion rights are realised in Northern Ireland.

"It's not too late for the health minister to do his job and provide access to lawful abortion services for all who need them.

"It is right that the Secretary of State exercises his powers to end this unacceptable denial of healthcare."

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But Ms Lockhart said: "This is a devolved matter, with responsibility resting with Robin Swann.

"He is the one mandated by the people of Northern Ireland to bring forward a plan that reflects local opinion on a deeply controversial issue, with passionate views on both sides of the debate."

The DUP MP said she was shocked that some local parties were welcoming this "power grab" by Westminster.

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw said Mr Lewis should never have needed to take action. "I look forward to further details of how (abortion) services will be accessed as the new regulations come into effect at the end of the month," she added.

Green Party leader Clare Bailey said: "The Executive is failing in its duty to provide free, safe and legal reproductive healthcare for women in Northern Ireland.

"It still can and should commission services."

Presbyterian Moderator, Dr David Bruce, described Mr Lewis' move as "ill-considered and irresponsible".

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