Theresa May Under Pressure To Amend Abortion Laws In Northern Ireland

Grace Carr | Reporter

British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing mounting pressure to take executive action and legalize abortion in Northern Ireland where it remains illegal.

Northern Ireland operates under a different governing body than the rest of Ireland, and following a power-sharing debacle that left the government without an executive in January 2017, British officials have been assuming authority to make major decisions for the region while its governing body remains uncertain.

Following Ireland’s Saturday vote to legalize abortion by repealing the Eight Amendment, abortion advocates are calling for May to act as Northern Ireland’s executive to legalize abortion. Northern Ireland’s elected assembly can choose to align with Britain’s abortion laws that permit women to abort their unborn children until 24 weeks in pregnancy. The assembly voted against doing so in February 2016, and has not been able to vote again following the government’s collapse in 2017, Reuters reported. (RELATED: Here’s How American Pro-Lifers Responded To Ireland’s ‘Yes’ To Abortion)

May has indicated she will not make a decision where the Northern Ireland government should.

“This is an injustice. No woman in the U.K. should be denied access to a safe, legal abortion,” Britain’s Labour Party shadow minister for women and equalities Dawn Butler said in response to May, Reuters reported. Roughly 140 members of Parliament would also support an amendment to legalize abortion in Northern Ireland, according to The Irish News.

Women in Ireland can now abort their unborn babies up until the third month in pregnancy. Between the third and sixth month of pregnancy, abortions will be permitted only in the presence of fatal abnormalities and where the mother’s life is threatened. (RELATED: Here’s What Abortion In Ireland Will Look Like After The Referendum)

“Ireland will now join that sad community of nations who throw away irreplaceable human beings through abortion on demand,” Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said Saturday.

Ireland was one of the last European countries that banned abortion until Saturday.

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