Northern Ireland leader tells UK govt to 'back off' on abortion

by Reuters
Thursday, 25 March 2021 16:47 GMT

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain, February 3, 2021. REUTERS/John Sibley

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Brandon Lewis this week published legislation that would give the government power to force the region to expand abortion services to meet United Nations rights obligations

BELFAST, March 25 (Reuters) - Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster on Thursday called on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government to "back off" in its attempts to bypass the devolved government and force the region to expand access to abortion.

Johnson's minister for Northern Ireland issues, Brandon Lewis, this week published legislation that would give the government power to force the region to expand abortion services to meet United Nations rights obligations.

"This is a hugely complex, controversial, legally challenging issue for the (Northern Ireland) Executive. But let us be very clear, it is for the Executive. It is not for (Northern Ireland Secretary) Brandon Lewis ... He should back off," Foster said at a press briefing.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Hugh Lawson)