I would like to start by stating that I recognise that abortion is a sensitive issue. Regardless of where your view lies, it is important that this matter is considered with due care and sensitivity. The Government recognises the sensitivity of this issue and the range of views expressed by people on all sides of the debate. Abortion is a matter of conscience in the House when it comes to voting.
The strength of feeling from MPs was clearly demonstrated during the votes on the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation & Exercise of Functions) Act 2019. The Government is now working towards the laying of regulations for a new legal framework for the provision of abortion services in Northern Ireland, as required by the 2019 Act. This new framework will be in force by 31 March 2020.
To help inform the shape of the legislation that is introduced, a consultation was held. This has now closed, and the Government is due to publish its response shortly. I very much welcome the Government’s commitment to ensure that the health and safety of women and girls, and clarity and certainty for the medical profession, are at the forefront of their considerations.