Thank you for contacting me about devolution and the issue of abortion in Northern Ireland.
I am pleased that the Government recognises the sensitivity of this issue and the range of views expressed by stakeholders on all sides of the debate. Regardless of where one's own view lies it is important that the matter is considered with due care and good understanding.
I firmly welcome the Government’s position, which has been outlined on many occasions by the Northern Ireland Secretary, Karen Bradley, that the best way forward is for locally accountable politicians in Northern Ireland to make decisions such as this. Since 29 June last year women from Northern Ireland have had access to free abortion procedures performed in England.
Laws regarding abortion in other jurisdictions are a matter for the peoples and governments concerned. Those who wish to criticise the arrangements in Alabama and Northern Ireland will do so: as regards Northern Ireland, abortion is a devolved matter and the Government takes seriously its obligation to respect the devolution settlement. Likewise, in the USA, the issue is partly to do with the distribution of decision-making powers between the federal and state governments.
In response to the report from the Women and Equalities Committee, I understand that the Government is carefully considering the Committee’s recommendations and will respond to the report in due course.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP