Abortion in Northern Ireland

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:25 am on 25th March 2021.

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Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 11:25 am, 25th March 2021

The hon. Lady makes a very important point. Even putting aside the legal and moral obligations of this House to ensure that the right healthcare is being provided in Northern Ireland, doing nothing, as some people may make a case for—I understand the sensitivities behind this—does not actually mean that nothing is happening. Doing nothing actually means that people are at risk of the kind of problems and misleading guidance and advice that the hon. Lady has rightly outlined.

There is also a risk that people turn to unofficial, shall we say, healthcare—inappropriate healthcare—that does not give them the right sort of healthcare. Actions and procedures then end up being performed illegally and in back-door areas in a way that means that people are not getting the right sort of support and healthcare. That leads to other complications and problems.

As the hon. Lady has said and others have referred to, as I did earlier, there are too many harrowing examples of people who have not been able to get access to healthcare in the right way. Whatever our views on these matters and the sensitivities, we need to ensure that women and girls in Northern Ireland, like those in the rest of the United Kingdom, have access to good quality advice and good quality, proper, official well advised healthcare that takes into account their own individual needs.