UK says it won't impose abortion reform on Northern Ireland - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

UK says it won't impose abortion reform on Northern Ireland

By JILL LAWLESS
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) - The British government is under mounting pressure to ease Northern Ireland's restrictive abortion laws, but a Cabinet minister said Tuesday it would be wrong to impose change from London.

"Personally, I want to see reform in Northern Ireland, but it is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland," Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley told lawmakers in the House of Commons.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the U.K. where abortion is illegal in all but exceptional cases. The neighboring Republic of Ireland voted last month to lift its abortion ban, putting pressure on the north to follow suit.

The sensitive issue is complicated because abortion rules are the responsibility of Northern Ireland's Belfast-based administration, which has been suspended since January 2017 because of feuding between the main Catholic and Protestant political parties.

Bradley said the best option for progress on abortion rights is to get the Northern Ireland assembly and government running again. But there is little sign of a breakthrough in the impasse between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party.

Given the political vacuum in Northern Ireland, some U.K. lawmakers want Britain's Parliament to intervene. They argue that abortion is a matter of human rights and therefore an issue for central, not regional, government.

The U.K. Supreme Court is due to rule Thursday on whether Northern Ireland's abortion ban violates women's human rights.

Labour lawmaker Stella Creasy, who was granted an emergency debate on the issue Tuesday, said Parliament should repeal "outdated" sections of the 1861 Offenses Against the Person Act, the legislation that bars abortion in Northern Ireland.

"Women will never truly be free whilst one cannot control what happens to their own body," Creasy said.

In another complicating factor, Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative minority government relies for survival on the support of 10 lawmakers from Northern Ireland's traditionalist Democratic Unionist Party, which strongly opposes legalizing abortion.

DUP lawmaker Jeffrey Donaldson said he was "proud of the fact that there are so many people alive in Northern Ireland today because we have a law that respects the rights of both women and of the unborn child."

Bradley said any vote on abortion in Parliament would be a conducted as a free vote, rather than one whipped on party lines. It's likely a majority would back change under those circumstances.

The prime minister "has been clear in her support for women's rights in respect of access to safe abortions and she welcomed the referendum result in Ireland," Bradley said.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • NationalMore>>

  • Jury to decide fate of elderly Mafia boss 'Cadillac Frank'

    Jury to decide fate of elderly Mafia boss 'Cadillac Frank'

    Sunday, June 17 2018 10:40 PM EDT2018-06-18 02:40:02 GMT
    Monday, June 18 2018 11:16 PM EDT2018-06-19 03:16:03 GMT
    (FBI Surveillance Photo via AP). In this 1993 FBI surveillance photo, Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, left, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, second from left with back to camera, and Frank Salemme Jr., behind right, are seated at The Charles Hotel in C...(FBI Surveillance Photo via AP). In this 1993 FBI surveillance photo, Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, left, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, second from left with back to camera, and Frank Salemme Jr., behind right, are seated at The Charles Hotel in C...
    Attorneys are preparing to make their final pitches to jurors in the case of a former New England Mafia boss charged in the 1993 killing of a nightclub owner.More >>
    Attorneys are preparing to make their final pitches to jurors in the case of a former New England Mafia boss charged in the 1993 killing of a nightclub owner.More >>
  • Prosecutor: No charges in fatal shooting of unarmed man

    Prosecutor: No charges in fatal shooting of unarmed man

    Monday, June 18 2018 5:20 PM EDT2018-06-18 21:20:36 GMT
    Monday, June 18 2018 11:16 PM EDT2018-06-19 03:16:00 GMT
    A Virginia prosecutor says no charges will be filed against two police officers who fatally shot an unarmed black man after he ignored their commands and spun quickly toward them during a nighttime encounter.More >>
    A Virginia prosecutor says no charges will be filed against two police officers who fatally shot an unarmed black man after he ignored their commands and spun quickly toward them during a nighttime encounter.More >>
  • Police identify gunman killed by bystander in Walmart lot

    Police identify gunman killed by bystander in Walmart lot

    Monday, June 18 2018 9:30 PM EDT2018-06-19 01:30:33 GMT
    Monday, June 18 2018 11:15 PM EDT2018-06-19 03:15:54 GMT
    (Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times via AP). Police investigate the scene of a shooting at a Walmart in Tumwater, Wash., Sunday, June 17, 2018. A gunman injured a teen and shot a man in a pair of carjacking attempts Sunday, before being killed by a bysta...(Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times via AP). Police investigate the scene of a shooting at a Walmart in Tumwater, Wash., Sunday, June 17, 2018. A gunman injured a teen and shot a man in a pair of carjacking attempts Sunday, before being killed by a bysta...
    Tim Day has been identified as the armed suspect killed by a bystander Sunday in a Walmart parking lot in Washington state.More >>
    Tim Day has been identified as the armed suspect killed by a bystander Sunday in a Walmart parking lot in Washington state.More >>
Powered by Frankly