By Deirdre Tynan • 22 July 2021 • 15:06
Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis.
UK Government directs Northern Ireland’s Executive to make abortion services available in Northern Ireland no later than March 31, 2022.
Brandon Lewis, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has directed Northern Ireland’s Department of Health, the Minister of Health, the Health and Social Care Board, and to the First and deputy First Minister, to commission and make abortion services available in Northern Ireland as soon as possible, and no later than March 31, 2022.
The Secretary of State also directed that the Department of Health should provide immediate funding support for interim provision of early medical abortion, which is at risk of collapse.
The direction is set out in a Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament, and follows on from the Northern Ireland Secretary’s statement in March this year when he laid before Parliament the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021.
These regulations give the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland the power to direct relevant Northern Ireland Ministers, departments and relevant health bodies to commission abortion services, consistent with the conditions set out in the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 which came into force on March 31 2020.
“While I welcome the Department of Health recommencing work on the abortion services commissioning project, I remain extremely disappointed that they have not brought forward the full commissioning proposals. The lack of discussion on this important issue in the Executive Committee means that I have been left with no choice but to issue the direction,” said Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, on July 22.
“I have a legal and moral obligation to ensure the women and girls in Northern Ireland are afforded their rights and can access healthcare, as set out in the 2020 Regulations.
“I reiterate my thanks to the medical professionals and Informing Choices Northern Ireland who have ensured that women and girls have had some local access to abortion services in Northern Ireland, and the organisations that have supported this work,” he added.
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Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.
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