The First Minister of Northern Ireland has said he intends to fight Westminster’s direction to make abortions more readily available.
Last month, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis ordered the Province’s Department of Health to make abortion regulations fully operational across Northern Ireland by 31 March 2022, but First Minister Paul Givan has said he will contest the move.
Although abortion is a devolved matter, a radical regime was forced on the Province by the UK Government in March last year, angering local politicians. Abortions are being provided by individual Health and Social Care Trusts, but have not been commissioned nationwide.
In an interview with the BBC, Paul Givan said that he was “disappointed” with the decision made by Lewis to force the Department of Health and the Regional Health and Social Care Board to promote abortion.
As a consequence, he explained, it was his intention to “resist what the Secretary of State has done by way of a direction” and was exploring all political and legal options available for him to do so.
Recently, the First Minister said that Northern Ireland had “the most extreme abortion laws anywhere in Europe”.
In February, prior to becoming First Minister, Paul Givan brought forward a Private Member’s Bill to remove the legal provision which allows unborn children with a non-fatal disability to be aborted up to birth.
the most extreme abortion laws anywhere in Europe
Since the legislation was imposed in March 2020, the number of abortions has dramatically risen – from 22 in the twelve months prior to the change, to 1,345 in the year following.
Recently, the High Court granted the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) permission to launch a judicial review against the Westminster Government’s abortion override powers.