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Belfast, Northern Ireland, Oct 21, 2019 / 05:20 pm (CNA).- Northern Ireland's devolved legislature failed Monday to block a change to the region's law imposed by the British parliament. As a result, both abortion and same-sex marriage will now be legal in the region.
Same-sex marriages are expected to begin taking place in Northern Ireland by February 2020, while the new abortion law is set to take effect by April 2020.
Abortion - Northern - Ireland - Mother - Life
Previously, abortion was legally permitted in Northern Ireland only if the mother's life was at risk or if there was risk of permanent, serious damage to her mental or physical health.
The British parliament passed the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 in July, with amendments legalizing abortion and same-sex marriage.
Act - Effect - Oct - Northern - Ireland
That act took effect Oct. 22 because the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has been suspended the past two years due to a dispute between the two major governing parties, was not able to do business by Oct. 21.
Pro-life members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, largely comprised of members of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), recalled the assembly Monday for the first time since January 2017 in order to block the relaxed abortion restrictions. The DUP favors union with the UK and is known to be a right-of-center political party on many issues.
Arlene - Foster - DUP - Leader - Guardian
Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, told The Guardian that she hoped the recall would allow assembly members to debate the issue at the local level, and would allow those opposed to the changes officially to voice their opposition.
However, in order for the assembly to make any binding changes, the election of a speaker of the assembly with cross-party support was required. This proved impossible when the nationalist Social Democratic Labour Party walked out of the Oct. 21 meeting, the BBC reported. The assembly also would have needed to form an...
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