Words: Dylan Murphy
It comes after full implementation of services was stalled by disagreement from Northern Ireland’s devolved government.
Westminister has ordered Northern Ireland’s Stormont government to make abortion services fully accessible by March 2022.
Back in March of 2020 laws surrounding abortion were changed, permitting the procedure in some circumstances. However, the DUP blocked discussions around the commissioning of abortion services in May of this year. It means that health trusts do not carry all the same available procedures as their mainland counterparts and some women seeking an abortion after 10 weeks may have to travel to the UK for the procedure.
Though abortion is a devolved issue in Northern Ireland, the UK government had stated it was required to uphold human rights duties and if the Stormont government continued to stall it would intervene.
In an unprecedented move in March, Mr Lewis took powers permitting him to direct Stormont to act. However, he had not used them until now.
He said in a statement, “This ongoing stalemate leaves me no choice but to issue a direction”.
“I have a legal and moral obligation to ensure the women and girls in Northern Ireland are afforded their rights and can access the healthcare.”
The DUP remain opposed to the introduction of full abortion services and previously said the UK government intervening could have “serious consequences for devolution”.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance will support the UK government intervening to introduce abortion services if there is still no progress.
Elsewhere on District: Saint Sister are exploring the contours of their relationship.