Women’s minister objects to Northern Ireland’s strong abortion protections

Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt has called for Westminster to impose abortion on Northern Ireland.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said Westminster needs to intervene and ‘resolve’ the issue.

It comes after Conservative Party leadership candidates Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson said in Belfast this week, that both abortion and same-sex marriage should remain a matter for the Northern Ireland assembly.

Devolved matter

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where the Abortion Act 1967 does not apply.

It is permitted only when the life of the mother is at risk, or the pregnancy will cause her lasting physical damage.

A spokesperson for the DUP rejected Mordaunt’s approach, saying: “Most parties in Northern Ireland oppose the extension of the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland.

“These are devolved matters and should be a matter for the Northern Ireland assembly.”

‘Out of step’

Earlier this week, Hunt and Johnson refused to back the idea of Westminster removing Northern Ireland’s protections for women and the unborn.

Johnson said the legalisation of abortion and same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland is “pre-eminently a matter for the people of Northern Ireland”. Hunt agreed.

Pro-life campaign group Both Lives Matter welcomed the news, saying: “Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt both confirmed that they would not impose abortion law change on Northern Ireland from Westminster”.


A 2018 ComRes poll revealed that 72 per cent of Conservative Party MPs do not support Westminster imposing abortion on Northern Ireland.

Another ComRes poll found that two-thirds of women in Northern Ireland similarly don’t want abortion imposed there either.

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