Thursday 31st July 2008
Call for NI abortion law review
By Martina Purdy
BBC NI political correspondent
The 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to NI at present
A UN committee has repeated its call for a review of Northern Ireland's abortion law through public consultation.
The Committee on the Elimination for Discrimination Against Women noted in its latest report the 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.
It also suggested this was having a detrimental impact on women's health.
The call coincides with moves by some Westminster MPs to have the act extended to Northern Ireland.
This is despite significant opposition from NI church and political leaders.
Labour's Diane Abbott is among the MPs who want to effectively end the ban on abortion in Northern Ireland, by tabling a legislative amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
In its report, the Committee on the Elimination for Discrimination Against Women urges the UK to amend the existing law to remove what it calls the "punitive provision" imposed on women who undergo abortion.
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said it had not yet received a copy of the report.
But it has long been the NIO's position that abortion law is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland, with the best place for debate being a devolved assembly once Stormont accepts responsibility for justice.