NI secretary can direct establishment of abortion services, judge rules

Anti-abortion group claimed only elected representatives in North should decide on issue

Tue, Feb 8, 2022,
Alan Erwin

The Northern Ireland secretary has the legal authority to direct the establishment of abortion services in the region, a judge as ruled at Belfast High Court.

Mr Justice Colton rejected a challenge by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) to Brandon Lewis’ powers to impose a deadline on Stormont for putting in place a centralised system.


Abortion protests take place in Belfast amid deepening political row

Pro-choice councillor says any move to block rollout of services is ‘against democracy’

July 31, 2021

Pro-choice and anti-abortion campaigners have held separate protests in Belfast amid the deepening political row over the commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland.

The small-scale demonstrations in the city centre came after DUP First Minister Paul Givan threatened to block the British government’s move to formally direct Stormont to fully roll out abortion services in the region.


Britain orders Northern Ireland to introduce full abortion services

‘This stalemate leaves me no choice,’ UK Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis tells Belfast leaders.

July 22, 2021

The British government has ordered Northern Ireland’s coalition government to introduce full-fledged abortion services, more than a year after legislation passed in Westminster required this to happen.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis issued the order Thursday directing the U.K. region’s Department of Health and Health Minister Robin Swann to make Northern Ireland compliant with British abortion law.


Abortion in NI: Westminster directs Stormont to set up services

By Jayne McCormack, BBC News NI political correspondent
July 22, 2021

Westminster has directed Stormont's Department of Health to set up full abortion services in Northern Ireland by no later than next March.

The government has intervened with a formal direction requiring Stormont to act.


Abortion in NI: Delays to introducing full services ‘deeply troubling’, court hears

By Jayne McCormack, BBC News NI Political Reporter
May 26, 2021

Delays in implementing Northern Ireland's abortion laws have been a "deeply troubling exercise in finger-pointing", a court has heard.

Abortion became legal in 2020, following a vote by MPs during the collapse of devolution.

Stormont has since been under pressure to establish a permanent, central abortion service, but this has not happened yet.


N. Ireland – Papers lodged in legal challenge against abortion regulations

Published 24 May 2021

Pro-life campaigners have formally lodged proceedings in Belfast against regulations giving the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland powers to direct the commissioning of abortion services.

Belfast law firm Hewitt & Gilpin has been instructed by the Centre for Bioethical Reform Northern Ireland (CBRNI) and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) to mount a challenge to the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021.


BBC’s ‘Three Families’ Shows How the Fight For Abortion Rights in the UK Continues

Sian Norris
14 May 2021

The BBC drama
Three Families told the story of the fight to decriminalise abortion in
Northern Ireland from the perspectives of three women, all based on real-life

The first focused on a mother who faced criminal prosecution for purchasing
abortion pills online for her 15-year-old daughter who was in an abusive
relationship. The second followed a woman whose baby had a fatal foetal
abnormality but was still forced to carry it to term. The final woman’s baby
also had a fatal foetal abnormality. She died in the womb and the mother was


Abortion: London wants ‘concrete steps’ towards NI services by summer

Apr 26, 2021

The Department of Health must take "concrete steps" towards commissioning full abortion services in NI before the summer, a government minister has said.

Robin Walker said the secretary of state stands ready to act if significant progress is not made.


N. Ireland – Abortion: Foster tells NIO to “back off” over abortion services

March 25, 2021

First Minister Arlene Foster has told the NI secretary to "back off" over the issue of providing abortion services in Northern Ireland.

The government has published regulations allowing Brandon Lewis to direct commissioning of the services.


UK government moves to compel Northern Ireland to expand abortion services

By Reuters Staff
Mar 23, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government published legislation on Tuesday to hand it powers to compel Northern Ireland to implement more liberal abortion services, despite opposition from the region’s first minister and health minister.

Britain’s parliament voted in 2019 to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland, allowing terminations without restriction up to 12 weeks and with no time limit in the case of “severe foetal impairment or fatal foetal abnormality”.