Today, legislation that aims to decriminalise abortion in England and Northern Ireland was tabled in the house of commons, with the bill itself aiming to scrap the the 1861 Offences Against the Persons Act, but in its current form is highly unlikely to become law without government backing.
This bill is one of the many attempts this week by the UK parliament to change the current laws on abortion within the UK and Northern Ireland, where abortions are currently illegal in virtually all situations outside of a few medical and mental health exceptions. The issue with these laws in their current state is that the Supreme Court has found that, in their current state are incompatible with human rights laws, with them saying that the ban in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality needed “radical reconsideration”.
Due to the fact that there are currently no ministers at Stormont, which is on account of the impasse of power sharing, many campaigners in the pro-choice group are demanding that the laws themselves are changed to be more lenient and in line with the current laws on human rights at Westminster itself.
The second reading of the bill has been cleared and will be read on the 23rd of November.
Among the 15 Tory MPs to back the bill were Equalities and Women’s minister Penny Mordaunt, who is also international development secretary, as well as her deputy Victoria Atkins,
The private member’s bill, which would make abortion legal within the UK, is not too likely to have enough parliamentary time to make it onto the statute book.
The Offences Against the Persons Act made abortion illegal in the UK except when there is a risk to the life or health of the mother.
The 1967 Abortion Act in England and Wales provided for exemptions to the 1861 Act, enabling legal abortions, but it has never applied in Northern Ireland.
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