POLITICS

DUP-Tory Deal Puts Tories Under Pressure Over 'Unjust' Northern Ireland Abortion Rules

26/06/2017 17:03

Theresa May has come under pressure over abortion rights after striking a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up her minority government.

Abortion rights in Northern Ireland are severely restricted. As a result many Northern Irish women travel to England to have abortions on the NHS but have to pay.

Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the Commons home affairs committee, said this situation was “unjust”.

“Will the government use this to deal with the huge anomaly where Northern Irish woman are now being expected to be charged in NHS hospitals in the UK  for abortions,” she asked.

Damian Green, the first secretary of state, told the Commons it was “for the people of Northern Ireland to decide these matters” as healthcare was a devolved matter.

Green added the issue of abortion was not discussed in the talks between the Conservative Party and the DUP.

But Labour Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy said it appeared as if Northern Irish women were “simply expected to pay the price of what feels like a forced marriage”.

And she said it was not a devolved matter for the Stormont Assembly as it was about Northern Irish women accessing abortions in England, Scotland and Wales rather than in Northern Ireland.

On Monday morning the DUP agreed to back May’s government in exchange for at least £1bn in extra spending for Northern Ireland.

As part of the deal, the Conservative Party has also ditched its plans to abolish the triple-lock protection for state pensions and means-test the winter fuel payment.

Under a supply and confidence arrangement intended to last until 2022, the DUP guaranteed that its 10 MPs will vote with the Tories on its Queen’s Speech, the Budget, and legislation relating to Brexit and national security.

Together with the 317 Tory MPs remaining after May’s disastrous decision to call a snap election, this will give the prime minister just enough MPs to clear the 326 level required for an absolute majority in the Commons.

Welsh and Scottish politicians have condemned the deal and demanded other regions of the UK be given funding equal to their populations.

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