There have been a number of cases recently that have highlighted how the abortion law in Northern Ireland is different to the rest of the UK. At present women from Northern Ireland coming to England for an abortion are asked for a payment, when other women from the UK don’t have to pay.
The Government is proposing that this will no longer happen, and will be launching a consultation shortly. None of this changes the fundamental position that abortion in Northern Ireland itself is a devolved issue. It is therefore up to the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives in Stormont to address the need for change and not for me.
I understand, however, that in a particular court case, a judge in Belfast has granted permission for a judicial review to be heard over the prosecution of the mother, as he believed that the case raised issues of considerable public importance and public debate. This will now be held in the autumn 2017.
I will continue to follow this issue closely but the courts are entirely separate from Parliament and no MP -not even the Prime Minister- can interfere in court proceedings.