MPs vote to make abortion legal in the North

Abortion set to be decriminalised in the North from October 22nd if the assembly and executive are not back in place

Jim Allister: he said changes to the North’s abortion and same-sex marriage law “should never have been accepted”. Photograph: Getty Images

Jim Allister: he said changes to the North’s abortion and same-sex marriage law “should never have been accepted”. Photograph: Getty Images

 

House of Commons MPs have voted by 328 to 65 to make abortion legal in the North if the Northern Ireland assembly and executive are not back in place by October.

Of the 11 MPs from Northern Ireland who take their seats, seven of the 10 DUP MPs voted against, two acted as tellers for the Nos, while independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon voted for the amendments.

Abortion is now set to be decriminalised in the North from October 22nd. Regulations will be in place from March 31st, 2020. The repealing of the 1861 Offences Against the Persons Act will give the North the most liberal abortion laws in the UK.

Sarah Ewart, a Belfast woman who has been campaigning for six years against the region’s abortion laws, watched the proceedings from her home on Thursday. She wept, and was embraced by Grainne Teggart from Amnesty International who supported her campaign, as the results of the vote was announced.

“I feel massively relieved. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. This has been six years we have been trying to get some change, and finally Westminster are going to act and give women here the healthcare we deserve,” she told PA.

Condemning the vote as an abuse of the Commons’ rules, Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister said changes to the North’s abortion and same-sex marriage law “should never have been accepted”.