NI abortion: Campaigner urges action from Theresa May

‘If we had an assembly here, we would be literally at their doors begging’

Yes campaigners hold posters calling for Northern Ireland to liberalise its strict abortion laws. Photograph: Getty

Yes campaigners hold posters calling for Northern Ireland to liberalise its strict abortion laws. Photograph: Getty

 

A woman who fought a long legal battle to liberalise abortion law in Northern Ireland has urged Theresa May to step in.

Northern Ireland will be the only part of the UK or Ireland not to allow the procedure after the Republic voted overwhelmingly for change at the weekend.

Sarah Ewart went for a termination in England in 2013 after doctors told her her unborn baby would not survive outside the womb.

The Stormont Assembly is suspended due to the collapse of powersharing months ago.

Ms Ewart told the BBC: “If we had an assembly here, we would be literally at their doors begging, but we don’t so we are really hoping that we can have help from Westminster and Theresa May to give us the access we need here in Northern Ireland.

“It’s a relief that women like me are going to be able to travel down to Dublin to access this procedure, but really we are wanting the help here to have it within our own hospitals in Northern Ireland.”

Ms Ewart’s legal case galvanised an issue which has since made its way to the UK Supreme Court.

Ms May is under pressure to intervene in the Northern Ireland debate following the two-to-one vote in favour of reform in Ireland.

Her government is propped up in key votes by the DUP, which opposes any relaxation in the law and which has opposed any change in Northern Ireland under devolution.

Meanwhile, the Irish Government has said the Republic has “set the tone” for what should happen in Northern Ireland.

Minister for Employment Regina Doherty said her colleagues will move quickly on legislation.

Asked whether she will be putting pressure on Mrs May to introduce legislation in Northern Ireland, Ms Doherty said: “I think she has enough pressure and I think the resounding mandate that was given by the Republic of Ireland managed to set the tone with regard to what should happen in Northern Ireland but obviously they are responsible for their own.”

She also said the “vast majority” of doctors will deliver the service women require despite some having a “conscientious objection” to the referendum result. – PA

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