Abortion debate to be shelved

ULSTER MPs are unlikely to be able to participate in a Westminster debate over proposed change to abortion law in Northern Ireland.

There is speculation that the controversial issue, which is part of the wider Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, may be shelved for as long as two years.

Commons leader Harriet Harman is expected to invoke a procedural device which will prevent any votes being taken on abortion amendments tabled during the exhanges on proposed new fertility laws.

The 1967 Abortion Act is exempt from Northern Ireland, where abortion is currently illegal except in exceptional circumstances.

The government have denied any deal with the DUP to leave the law on abortion in return for their support on anti-terror laws earlier this year.

All of the main political parties are vehemently opposed to any new legislation being introduced.

At the weekend, both pro-choice and anti-abortion rallies were held in Belfast in a final attempt to influence Westminster MPs.