A move to direct the commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland is an oversupply of the powers of the secretary of state, the DUP has said.
The British government is set to take legislative action in Westminster this week to give the Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis powers to force Stormonts Department of Health to open abortion services across the region.
However, DUP MP Carla Lockhart said this was a shifting issue.
This is an oversupply of the powers of the Secretary of State. This is a health issue and it’s up to our health minister (Robin Swann) to submit the suggested regulations for commissioning services, Ms Lockhart told the BBC Sunday Political Program.
Abortion laws in the region were liberalized by MPs in Westminster in 2019 at a time when power-sharing had collapsed.
The new regulations went into effect a year ago, and while individual health trusts are providing services on an ad-hoc basis, the Norths Department of Health has not yet centrally ordered services on a region-wide basis.
In the absence of fully commissioned services, women from Northern Ireland are still traveling to England to use abortions.
Ms Lockhart said the Westminster intervention was unacceptable and claimed that people in Northern Ireland did not support the decision.
She also claimed that the abortion legislation introduced by Westminster went far beyond what was recommended.
Westminster has done what is required of them. If you actually look at the legislation, it mentions the Department of Health in terms of committees, so it is not up to them to get involved in the matter, she added.
This is a transfer issue, it is a health issue and therefore health is entirely the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Executive.
If the Northern Ireland Executive cannot reach an agreement, it is up to the courts to determine what is required of our Executive.
In the midst of an ongoing conflict within the Stormont Executive over this issue, Mr. Lewis has decided to act, through regulation in Westminster, to lead the department to order services.
Northern Ireland Justice Minister Naomi Long said the Assembly should continue to commission the services required by law.
I would prefer this to be done by the Executive, I would prefer the Executive to grow and undertake its duties properly, said Ms. Long.
But in the absence of this, Brandon has the right to take on these responsibilities.
We are now in a situation where any discussion of this can be blocked by one party in the Executive, where we have no consensus on how to move it forward. without
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