Campaigners have condemned the House of Commons’ decision to pass an amendment that would decriminalize abortion in Northern Ireland.
Stella Creasy, a Labour MP, sponsored the amendment that would force abortion on the province if the Northern Ireland government is not restored by October 21.
The amendment includes a provision which allows a future Stormont assembly to overturn or amend the law.
Clare McCarthy, a spokesperson for Right to Life UK, said the amendment was an “unconstitutional and disrespectful attempt to override devolution in Northern Ireland and to attempt to impose abortion on demand on the Northern Irish people”.
“The law on this issue should be a decision for the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives, not for MPs in Westminster to decide,” she said.
“Westminster must respect the principle and spirit of devolution and ensure the people of Northern Ireland, through their elected representatives, get to decide on what law and policy should apply in that jurisdiction.”
Similarly, Dawn McAvoy of Northern Irish campaign group Both Lives Matter said in a statement: “This is without question a sad day for Northern Ireland.”
Currently, abortion is only legal in Northern Ireland in cases where the woman’s mental or physical health is in serious danger.
The legislation to which the amendment was attached, the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill, is meant to address the reestablishment of the devolved government in Stormont after the two leading parties split over two and a half years ago.
The bill intends to delay new elections in Northern Ireland, to give the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin more time to come to an agreement to re-establish their government.
Several talks have occurred, but both parties have failed to come to an agreement.
Another amendment to the bill the House of Commons passed yesterday seeks to legalize same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, with the same conditions as the abortion amendment.
The has its second reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday.