Northern Ireland's abortion law has been under increased pressure in recent years. Since abortion became legal after strong voter support in the Republic, abortion advocates have said "the North is next," while pro-life advocates have said "The North Protects."
Labour Party MP Stella Creasy had intended to propose an amendment to a draft domestic abuse bill to change abortion laws in Ireland, but the ruling Conservative government restricted the bill to England and Wales.
Creasy has joined MPs from multiple parties and more than 70 groups calling on the government to remove the restriction, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
"The Government has restricted the extent of this bill to try and avoid upsetting the DUP," she said.
A DUP spokesperson said any attempt to change the law without approval of the Assembly would breach the devolution settlement allowing self-government in Northern Ireland.
"The government should respect the right of the Assembly to legislate on abortion," said the spokesperson.
Fiona Bruce, a Conservative MP representing Congleton in Cheshire, England, joined Both Lives Matter in urging the government to reject any effort to expand legal abortion.
"Abortion pressure groups are trying to undermine devolution and impose change to abortion law for Northern Ireland," she said Feb. 26. "This is bad for devolution everywhere and contrary to Government policy."
"These extreme proposals are out of touch with the will of the Northern Irish people, and in particular women," she said. "It is clear that a strong majority of Northern Irish women reject interference from Westminster and believe that this is a decision for Northern Ireland."
Both Lives Matter cited the polling group ComRes' online poll in October 2018 of 1,013 Northern Ireland adults. It found 64 percent said abortion law should be decided by the people of Northern Ireland and their representatives, not MPs from other parts of the U.K.
A Belfast woman plans to bring forward a personal challenge to Northern Ireland's abortion law to court this week.
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In June 2018 the U.K. Supreme Court threw out a previous challenge to Northern Ireland's abortion law, saying the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which brought the case, did not have standing to do so. However, a majority of the judges said that the Northern Ireland abortion law framework is incompatible with human rights laws insofar as it bars abortion in cases of pregnancy by rape or incest or in cases of fetal abnormality. The U.K. government has so far not legislated any change.
Northern Irish women have been able to procure free National Health Service abortions in England, Scotland, and Wales since November 2017.
Some members of the House of Lords are attempting to require that same-sex marriage be legally recognized in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Telegraph reported March 1.
"In the absence of devolved government in Northern Ireland, there are members on all sides and in both Houses of Parliament who want to get this matter resolved," said Conservative peer Lord Hayward, who with Labour peer Lord Collins of Highbury is backing such an amendment to the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Bill.
"Westminster has already passed Northern Ireland legislation in the absence of Stormont, so we know that we can and should address the issue of marriage equality," Lord Hayward said.
The amendment would allow the Assembly six months to overturn the provision after the bill becomes law.