Labour MPs visit Belfast to discuss north's abortion laws

Grainne Teggart, Northern Ireland campaigns manager for Amnesty International
Brendan Hughes

A DELEGATION of Labour MPs are visiting Belfast today to meet campaigners and organisations to discuss calls to reform the north's abortion laws.

The MPs set to attend include shadow secretary of state Owen Smith, shadow minister on public health Sharon Hodgson, and London MP Rupa Huq.

They are due to meet MLAs, legal and healthcare professionals, women affected by the law and a range of civic society groups.

Mr Smith said Stormont is where decisions on Northern Ireland's abortion laws should be made, but he added: "If power returns to Westminster, we will push the government to make progress on ensuring people in Northern Ireland have the same rights as those elsewhere in the United Kingdom."

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International – which is hosting the delegation alongside the Family Planning Association – welcomed the visit.

"With Stormont talks underway, the role of the UK government is not just to be a facilitator in these talks. They are responsible for ensuring that long overdue change on abortion happens either via devolution or direct rule," she said.

In Northern Ireland, abortion is only permitted if a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

In the Republic, abortion is only legal if the mother's life it at risk. The south is due to have a referendum later this year on whether to repeal the eighth amendment governing abortion laws.

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