Bradshaw says next step in abortion law reform is amending Petition of Concern

Paula Bradshaw MLA has said the next step in abortion law reform is the Secretary of State amending the Petition of Concern to enable a future Assembly to decide on the issue.

Ms Bradshaw was speaking after this morning’s Supreme Court verdict, which found the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission had no legal standing to bring a case on abortion, despite its findings of incompatibility with human rights.

“Abortion is a conscience issue for Alliance but I share the Secretary of State’s now publicly stated view in favour of abortion law reform in Northern Ireland. Regardless of anyone’s views, everyone should agree the issue would be best dealt with by a local Assembly,” she said.

“However, we are now in a position where even if a vote went in favour of reform, it could be blocked by just a third of MLAs. Clearly that must be changed. Karen Bradley must immediately reform the Petition of Concern to restrict its use only for what it was originally intended – which was to protect human rights and equality. Currently it makes a mockery of democracy and contributes to the public’s lack of faith in politics.

“There is no reason for further delay on this, it is clearly within the power of the UK Government currently, and indeed it would make restoration of the Assembly easier. It is time the Secretary of State acted to demonstrate a road map back to a functioning Assembly for this and many other issues, and an assurance no part of the UK continues in breach of human rights standards. There can be no further excuse for inaction.”

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