After the successful referendum on legalising abortion in the Republic of Ireland, I used my question to continue to put pressure on the Prime Minister to support new legislation to decriminalise abortion in the UK.
Women here are still subject to criminal legislation from 1861, under which we can still be punished by life imprisonment for having an abortion without the permission of two doctors.
You can watch my question or read the transcript below:
Jo Stevens MP:
It is almost a year since the Government promised their domestic violence and abuse Bill, and the publication of that Bill will trigger a cross-party amendment that has widespread support to decriminalise abortion across the whole of the UK, which is long overdue. Will the Bill be published before the summer recess, and will the Prime Minister give a commitment today on the Floor of the House that her MPs will have a free vote on decriminalisation?
The Prime Minister:
The hon. Lady raises a number of aspects of this issue. The domestic violence and abuse Bill will be published in draft first. We have been taking our time, through the consultation, to work with those involved in working with victims of domestic violence and abuse, and to hear from victims and survivors, because we want to ensure that, as we bring this legislation together in the new Bill, we are getting it right for people. She refers to the issue of abortion. I believe it is absolutely right that a woman should have the right to a safe and legal abortion. As regards Northern Ireland, I believe that the best way—and my preferred way—is for that decision to be taken by the elected politicians in Northern Ireland, because it is a devolved matter. As regards votes on abortion in this House, they have always been treated as conscience matters and they will therefore be subject to a free vote.