Belfast Telegraph

Women in Northern Ireland suffering over abortion laws, says minister

Jeremy Hunt with Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Jeremy Hunt with Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Women in Northern Ireland are suffering from "a huge paucity of care" because of its abortion laws, according to the Women's Minister.

Penny Mordaunt said the matter hasn't been dealt with because it's a devolved issue but that she believes the Westminster government should act.

Ms Mordaunt, who is also the Defence Secretary, was speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday.

"People are allowed a free vote on these things, but I think we are expecting a ruling shortly that what is going on in Northern Ireland is incompatible with an individual's human rights," she said.

"We have women who are having to give birth to babies that are actually decomposing because they couldn't access the healthcare that they needed when they lost that pregnancy.

"Children who have the victims of sexual assault having to be followed by police to Liverpool in order for those police officers to retain DNA evidence for cases - this is not right."

In the Conservative hustings in Belfast on Tuesday, leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt was asked whether he would be in favour of changing the abortion laws in Northern Ireland.

“I don’t think that the UK should be imposing something that should be decided here,” he said.

The 1967 Abortion Act which governs the rest of the UK was not extended to Northern Ireland.

A termination is only permitted in Northern Ireland if a woman's life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health.

Penny Mordaunt said the reason why it hasn't be dealt with to date is because "this is a devolved matter and we take devolution seriously".

"In every single case where there has been a declaration of incompatibility with human rights, this government has acted," she said.

"Parliament has been very vocal on this issue and if government didn't act, parliament would and there would be a free vote on this issue."

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