Theresa May’s deal with the DUP is under pressure as Sinn Féin changes its stance on abortion

Foster & May

At its Ard Fheis (party conference) on 16 June, Sinn Féin delegates voted to allow abortion in Northern Ireland for a “limited gestational period”. This puts the party in line with proposed abortion law in the Republic of Ireland, but opposed to its potential power-sharing partners in the pro-life DUP.

Theresa May’s deal with the DUP means it’s unlikely she will force them to change. But it leaves women in Northern Ireland without a choice.

Sinn Féin change on abortion

Sinn Féin’s previous position supported abortion where there was a danger to the mother’s life; in cases of rape or incest, and in instances of fatal foetal abnormalities. This vote expanded that position to include support for proposed abortion law change in the Republic of Ireland.

Change in the Republic of Ireland is expected to allow unrestricted abortions for up to 12 weeks. Abortion will still be possible afterwards if there is a risk to the life or health of the mother, or if there’s a fatal foetal abnormality. This follows the recent abortion referendum result on 25 May.

While Sinn Féin MPs refuse to take their seats in Westminster, seven were elected in the 2017 election. It also holds 27 of the 90 seats in the Northern Ireland parliament, while the DUP hold 28. So its new stance on abortion carries weight.

Pressure on May and the DUP deal

This vote puts a lot of pressure on May’s confidence and supply deal with the DUP. Its deal means the DUP supports the Conservative government on key issues such as motions of confidence, finance, Brexit, and national security. All other matters are “agreed on a case by case basis”.

As support from the DUP’s 10 MPs guarantees the survival of May’s government, it means May is in a difficult position. But growing support for abortion rights in Northern Ireland also means the DUP are out of touch with a large number of people in Northern Ireland.

Read on...

Abortion change in Northern Ireland

While the 1967 Abortion Act made abortion legal in the UK, it wasn’t extended to Northern Ireland. This could change if there was a sitting government there.

Support for abortion rights in Northern Ireland is growing. And when the Republic of Ireland enacts legislation following the recent abortion referendum result, it could force Theresa May to bring about change too.

Home secretary Sajid Javid is also under pressure from over 30 cross bench MPs to change abortion law in Northern Ireland. And a majority of judges in the UK Supreme Court said abortion law in Northern Ireland is incompatible with human rights law.

Decision time for May

May needs the 10 DUP MPs for the survival of her government and for Brexit. it appears unlikely the DUP will change its position on abortion, though. So as long as the Tory/DUP pact remains in place, women in Northern Ireland will not have full control of their own bodies.

Get Involved!

– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account

Featured image via Flickr/Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed