Abortion bill to be brought forward in an attempt to bring change to NI law

North Hull MP Diana Johnson is bringing an abortion bill before the commons this week

AN MP is preparing to bring forward an Abortion Bill at the House of Commons this week in a bid to have it introduced in the north.

The move by North Hull MP Diana Johnson comes after the Republic voted in a referendum in May to reform its abortion laws.

Northern Ireland is still ruled by an 1861 Act threatening anyone performing abortions with life imprisonment, which was ruled as a breach of human rights by the Supreme Court this summer.

Many people in the north continue to remain opposed to its introduction.

Ms Johnson wants to remove legislation that criminalises abortion.

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She also wants to make it a criminal offence for someone to force a non-consensual abortion "such as someone who is violent towards a pregnant woman or puts tablets in someone's drink" punishable by life imprisonment.

"It never seems to have been the right time to address the inequality in Northern Ireland, until now,” she said.

"The Irish abortion referendum has made the difference north and south of the border very stark.

"The 1861 Act is more than 150 years old - it is the oldest healthcare regulation in the country.

"Why should it be the case women, who could go to jail for life for seeking an abortion, could get a harsher sentence than her abuser or rapist?"

The Labour MP insisted Westminster has a right to become involved in the abortion debate in the north.

"Westminster has a role to play in breaches of human rights in Northern Ireland," she insisted.

"I'm certainly not telling Northern Ireland what they need to put in place but if the courts are saying it's a breach of human rights to criminalise women for seeking abortion then we need to act.

"Westminster has always retained the ability to instruct departments on things like this where it is a human rights issue."

Ms Johnson's Abortion Bill will be brought forward tomorrow.

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