Many people have written to me recently about abortion in Northern Ireland. I have always said that we should do what we can to end the situation where women from Northern Ireland are forced to travel to other parts of the UK if they are seeking to terminate a pregnancy.
So I was disappointed when responsibility for this issue was devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, as I felt that this would set back the cause of equal access to abortion services. You can read the speech I made on this issue in 2009 here.
The current case, where a mother faces prosecution because she bought abortion drugs for her daughter, brings this important issue back under the spotlight. Whilst I would always want any drugs to be used safely, and I would not want to see any young woman put at risk, I share your view that prosecuting a parent trying to do the best for her child is not the answer.
Of course, we do not know the full facts of the case, and it may be that there are other issues here, but it seems to me that the current legal situation in Northern Ireland does need to be addressed as a matter of urgency – particularly now that so many women have stated that they, also, have bought abortion drugs.
As you may know, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has so far refused to comment on this case, as this is a devolved matter. However, it seems to me that there should be a more robust response from UK politicians, and so I have put this to her again, and you can read a copy of my letter here.