“The legal action is scheduled to take place in October, but SPUC, the world’s oldest pro-life group, is ready to go to court within hours in a bid to stop Mr. Lewis from issuing directions before the case can be heard,” the pro-life group said.
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, but abortion law is considered to be a devolved issue under the control of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
But due to the suspension of the regional government, the British parliament in October 2019 decriminalized abortion in Northern Ireland and obliged the U.K. government to create legal access to abortion in the region.
Before March 31, 2020, abortion was legally permitted in Northern Ireland only if the mother’s life was at risk or if there was a risk of long-term or permanent, serious damage to mental or physical health.
Northern Ireland’s abortion law now allows elective abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Abortions up to 24 weeks are legal when the mother’s physical or mental health is determined to be at risk. Abortions up until the point of birth are legal in cases of severe fetal impairment or fetal abnormality.
In March 2021, the U.K. government signaled its intention to unveil new regulations enabling Lewis to direct the Northern Ireland Department of Health to commission more widespread abortion services — prompting criticism from Catholic bishops.
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