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

A few points arise from what the hon. Gentleman has just outlined. First, the action we have taken this week was outlined on the Floor of the House during oral questions. We laid a statement on Tuesday. This action is being taken under the affirmative procedure, so it will be a matter for debate and can be properly discussed in this House. It is about our legal obligations as per 2019 to ensure that the services are properly provided.

We are now, as an hon. Friend outlined earlier, some 14 months on from the re-establishment of the Executive and the Department of Health is not at this stage providing the full range of services, although the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that, as I outlined in my opening remarks on this urgent question, some 1,100 individuals—women and girls—have been given services over the last period. I thank the health professionals for doing that, but there are still far too many individuals who are having to travel to mainland Great Britain to get the full range of medical support and services—services that are not available in Northern Ireland which are available elsewhere in the UK. We are under a legal obligation to ensure that that ability to access healthcare for women and girls in Northern Ireland is similar to that across the rest of the United Kingdom.