Conservative pressure is increasing to allow NI abortions in England as a result of the deal with the DUP

The DUP deal with the Conservatives has elevated the refusal to allow Northern Ireland women free abortions in England under the NHS into a real issue in the House of Commons. And if Ian Paisley junior can be said to speak for his party (which is not always the case) the DUP may not oppose a change. This would help the party improve its image among the mass of MPs who opposed a deal with “dinosaurs.” Support for a change led by senior Labour MPs Yvette Cooper and Stella Creasy has spread across the floor to Anna Soubry and now the home secretary Amber Rudd. This is quite a coup. An amendment to the Queen’s Speech on the subject will not pass but it can be regarded as pressure for a change which is at the discretion of the health secretary for England Jeremy Hunt. At the same time the Appeal Court in Belfast will rule on whether the existing law in Northern Ireland is contrary to human rights. This may not the end of the matter as it could end up in the Supreme Court.

While it’s too much to expect the DUP at this stage to lift its opposition to elective  abortion in Northern Ireland itself, what a change of atmosphere  could be created if they promised to stop blocking same sex marriage in the Assembly.

From the Guardian report..

The House of Commons, MPs raised concerns with the first secretary of state, Damian Green, that the government may have a tacit understanding with the DUP not to change the law in England.

But the Guardian understands DUP MPs are unhappy at this suggestion and have not appreciated being subtly painted as an obstacle to the policy change.

In a pointed intervention on Wednesday during a speech by the Labour MP Stella Creasy in the Queen’s speech debate, DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr said: “I do respect her genuine interest in this subject, I think it is important the house recognises this is not a matter for Belfast, this is a matter for NHS England.”

Rudd’s response, meanwhile, was prompted by a question during the debate from Tory MP Anna Soubry, who said there was “much concern on both sides of the house about the situation pertaining to women who live in Northern Ireland who seek terminations.”

Soubry asked the home secretary to give her assurance that access to termination would not be restricted while the situation was “resolved”, though there is no indication the Department of Health is preparing to change the policy.

Rudd said Soubry was “absolutely right … We are absolutely committed to healthcare for women, and that includes access to terminations.”

The controversy has unfolded before an important judgment on Northern Ireland’s abortion law. A court in Belfast is expected to rule on Thursday whether the region’s laws are in breach of the human rights of women and girls.

The court will determine whether two high court rulings in 2015 and 2016 that the existing abortion regime in Northern Ireland breached a woman’s right to a private life under European law can be upheld.

These were in cases involving women and girls who could not obtain abortions in local hospitals in cases of fatal foetal abnormality or became pregnant as a result of sexual crimes.

More than 50 MPs from all the major parties have signed an amendment to the Queen’s speech coordinated by Creasy, which the Speaker is expected to consider for a vote on Thursday, though there is no guarantee it will be chosen.


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  • Brendan Heading

    I’m not sure I agree that it’s an England-only issue.

    Part of the reason why this situation exists in the first place is because GB NHS trusts, presumably with the support of the Department for Health, do not think they should be paying out of their budgets for procedures that the electorate in NI vote against.

    If this goes ahead, arrangements should be made for trusts in GB to charge the cost back to the Northern Ireland health service, out of the block grant.

    I’d prefer a more holistic solution. The government should require that public healthcare exists as a universal service obligation and that devolved regions must maintain the law in support of this.

  • grumpy oul man

    Choice and SSM, plus some money.
    I might have been wrong about the DUP/Tory deal.
    Funny how things work out.

  • Toye native

    Brian you might call the DUP dinosaurs, I know the liberal left in England are calling them all things.
    There was a caller on the radio and said the dup can be very dangerous to the liberals in England because they are not afraid to say what they believe.
    Behind closed doors most conservatives would agree with their views, as would a large portion of England.
    Do you not think the conservatives are now new labour and I know there is many people in England crying out for a party like the DUP someone who stands up to the liberals and will not become to PC.

  • grumpy oul man

    Strange they had UKIP but didnt support them.
    Any proof about widespread support for the DUPs social policys in England.
    The voting pattern doesnt seem to support your claims and the disgust evident across the poltical divide would also seem to disprove your theory.

  • Zorin001

    Bercow is letting it go forward for a vote, now this puts the Tories in a Catch-22, let it go ahead as a free vote (which will likely) pass; angering the DUP or do a tight Whip to defeat it and confirm the fears of those who think the DUP tail will wag the Tory dog on social issues.

  • Brian Walker

    “Dinonsaurs” in quotes refers to the Green MP Caroline Lucas’s sotto voce on Tuesday to which Sir Jeffrey loudly objected as unparliamentary, followed by the Speaker’s gentle put down

  • Zorin001

    Chancellor now announcing that UK Gov will fund abortions on the English NHS for women travelling from NI:

  • runnymede

    Transparent attempt at mischief-making fails then.

  • Donagh

    The DUP, pro-choice abortion Party! Who would have thought the crazy fundamentalists would sell-out their God and principles for a few shekels?

  • Zorin001

    Left the Government with no option really, it was that or having the DUP have to embarrass themselves voting for this in the QS


    Here are our principles. If you don’t like them, we have others.

  • Zorin001

    If you decide you want a seat at the big table you put yourself under a microscope and this is the type of thing that can happen. I expect to see movement on SSM coming shortly.

  • Zorin001

    Thinking it over this probably suits the DUP (though they would never say so), means the issue continues to be shunted over to England rather than be addressed directly here.

    Grand if you can afford the price of the ferry or a return flight, not so grand if you can’t.

  • Brendan Heading

    There was a caller on the radio and said the dup can be very dangerous to the liberals in England because they are not afraid to say what they believe.

    I love contributions like this.

    The DUP are not dangerous to liberals for any reason. The DUP’s politics are essentially unrepresented, outside of the right wing fringe of the Conservative Party, anywhere in the UK. The idea that their free-speaking nature is some sort of a threat is laughable – nobody has anything to fear from the DUP speaking their mind, as it exposes exactly what sort of people they are.

    Secondly, the DUP absolutely are afraid to say what they believe. They keep the mad creationist, anti-gay stuff for their audience here at home; they wouldn’t dare mention any of it in front of a national audience. They’re afraid to state a position on paramilitary flags. Their south Belfast MP was asked a straight question on abortion earlier this week on twitter, and refused to answer it. In the past few elections, the DUP have refused to turn up at hustings and journalists have found it increasingly difficult to comment on any of the sensitive issues of the day.

  • Deplorable Ulsterman

    More b0ll0cks chucked in there at the end about destroying marriage. You “liberal” loons value nothing other than destruction of everything which makes a society strong, and everything that actually protects the most vulnerable (children). You should be known as destructive anarchists, not “liberals”.

  • Deplorable Ulsterman

    Aye right, it’s little other than. your own slurs against anyone who doesn’t belong to the cult sharing your loony “liberal” anarchist views