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DUP warns of 'consequences' over NI abortion calls

By Greg Heffer, political reporter
Theresa May is caught between her DUP allies, Tory MPs and opposition parties as pressure increases on the prime minister to bring Northern Ireland's abortion laws into line with the rest of the UK.
The DUP, who prop up the Conservative government at Westminster and oppose altering Northern Ireland's strict abortion legislation, have warned of "consequences" if Mrs May acts on the issue.
But Tory MPs are calling for a free vote on the issue, with Labour claiming the prime minister faces a "feminist test".There have been growing calls for Westminster to move towards liberalising abortion laws in the absence of a devolved government at Stormont and following the Republic of Ireland's historic referendum to lift a constitutional ban.Downing Street have insisted abortion is a devolved matter, with their main focus on restoring a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.
DUP warns of 'consequences' over NI abortion calls

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DUP chairman Lord Morrow has warned of 'consequences'
DUP peer Lord Morrow, the party's chairman, cautioned the prime minister against altering that stance.He told Northern Ireland newspaper the News Letter: "If she allowed the Tory party to have a free vote on this then she would have to accept the consequences."I think it is something she would regret. But it is not something I think she has any intention of doing."Why would she risk losing the support of the DUP? She would not be foolish enough to do that."Meanwhile, DUP MLA Jim Wells highlighted Mrs May's need to retain the party's support in order to pass crucial Brexit legislation as a minority administration.He said: "There are three crucial votes on Brexit coming up and the Tories need the DUP on board to get them through.
"I'd be fairly confident the prime minister won't want to touch this particular issue at the minute."But, putting pressure on Mrs May in the opposite direction, Tory MP Sarah Wollaston - the chair of the House of Commons health and social care committee - urged the prime minister to support cross-party efforts to liberalise Northern Ireland's abortion laws.
DUP warns of 'consequences' over NI abortion calls

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Theresa May if facing pressure from all sides on the issue
Labour MP Stella Creasy wants to force a vote on the issue in Westminster by tabling amendments to a forthcoming domestic violence bill.Dr Wollaston posted on Twitter: "I think PM should state she would welcome a cross party amendment & a free vote then pledge to bring forward the domestic violence bill ASAP."Mrs May is also reportedly being warned not to undo commitments made at the time she made her confidence and supply deal with the DUP last year."We accepted the DUP agreement with the expressed point it would not be at the expense of any equalities progress and we expect that to be stuck to," a Tory ex-minister told the Financial Times.Ms Creasy drew a comparison between the issue and the government's previous commitment to allowing a free vote on issues of conscience like extending same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland.
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She told Sky News: "I don't understand… why they're being selective on equalities issues and I think that doesn't really withhold scrutiny."Ms Creasy also told the government the absence of a devolved administration in Northern Ireland "doesn't absolve us of our international obligations" as she highlighted how "the United Nations has very clearly said this is a breach of the human rights of women in Northern Ireland".
news.sky.com
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