Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 13th December 2021.

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Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green 3:15 pm, 13th December 2021

T1. Ms Bailey asked the Minister of Health how, if the Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill passes, it will impact on his office, given that, during questions to the First Minister and deputy First Minister, she heard members on the DUP Benches say that, later today, the Assembly will debate the most controversial and far-reaching healthcare regulations to date, and perhaps they have forgotten that, tomorrow, we will debate the aforementioned Bill, sponsored by a DUP MLA, that seeks to legislate for healthcare restrictions that have been found to constitute violence against women and to be a breach of our human rights. (AQT 1901/17-22)

Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP

I thank the Member for the question on the private Member's Bill that is proceeding through the House. She will be aware that the Abortion Services Directions 2021, which came into force on 23 July, will require the Department to have commissioned abortion services in place by 31 March 2022 in line with the 2020 regulations. With regard to the outworking of the private Member's Bill, I have indicated to the Executive that, before I can bring any further papers to them, I need to see the outworkings of that legislation and how it may impact on any commissioning of services that my Department may deem to be necessary to meet the directions.

Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green

Thank you. Further to that, Minister, can you give an update to the House on how far progressed the commissioning of those services is?

Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP

I have indicated to Executive colleagues that I intend to bring a paper to them in the new year. I have also informed the Secretary of State that that will be my intention with regard to the work that is ongoing and the duty placed on us to meet the 2021 directions laid by the Secretary of State.