NORTHERN IRELAND – “The North is next” – proposals put forward to try and make this happen
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
June 1, 2018
As in Ireland up to now, it is almost impossible to get an abortion in Northern Ireland. The most immediate fallout of the Irish referendum results on 26 May was the call from many quarters for Northern Ireland to be next. However, there are complex political realities that will get in the way. The first and most important is that policy on abortion was devolved by the UK Parliament to Northern Ireland and Scotland some years back, as part of changes introduced by the then Labour government to give Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland more local control over a range of issues.
The problem now is that Northern Ireland hasn’t had a functioning government for more than a year, so there is no way it can act. Secondly, there is no guarantee its government would reform the abortion law even if it suddenly got back on its feet. One of the strongest and most reactionary Northern Irish parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), is dead set against legalising abortion. Moreover, they currently have a controlling say in the politics of the UK overall, because the Conservative Party does not have a parliamentary majority, and they made a deal with the DUP last year after the election to support them to get unpopular legislation through.