A SCOTLAND Office minister voted against extending abortion rights to Northern Ireland, it has emerged.

MPs voted last week on an amendment that would allow the UK Government to directly commission abortion services in Northern Ireland. 

It passed, but Iain Stewart - who has been the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland since June 2020 - was one of 70 MPs who voted against it. 

Most of the 70 were men and 61 of them were Conservative MPs including Michelle Donelan, Kevin Foster, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Iain Duncan Smith.

It comes after almost 100 MPs - including Rees-Mogg and Dominic Raab - voted in 2019 not to extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland. Prior to 2019, abortion was illegal in the country and women seeking a termination could face life imprisonment.

For the first time ever in December, members of the Northern Ireland Assembly voted in favour of abortion rights as they defeated a bill designed to restrict access to abortion.

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Lucy Grieve, co-founder of Back Off Scotland which is campaigning for the introduction of protest-free buffer zones around abortion, said she found it "frustrating" that people including Stewart would not want to be delivering healthcare to people in Northern Ireland who voted for it. 

She said: "It seems very bizarre to me that people would not want to be delivering healthcare to people that voted for it. It's extremely frustrating.

"I think the state of abortion rights in Northern Ireland is shocking. I can't believe we have been stuck in a situation of no commissioned services and I think it's shocking that members of the Westminster government have been trying to block the commissioning of services."

"I honestly think things like this show that the overturning of Roe vs Wade is not that far from home really."

Last week the US Supreme Court overturned the 50-year-old Roe vs Wade ruling which made abortion legal across the country, paving the way for individual states to ban terminations.

The decision has sparked uproar across the world and President Joe Biden described it as a "tragic error".

Green MSP Gillian Mackay - whose private member's bill would enable protest-free buffer zones to be established in Scotland if it became law - added: "Abortion rights are fundamental human rights, and the people of Northern Ireland should never have had to wait as long as they did for them. My support and solidarity is with everyone who campaigned so hard to secure those rights, despite the efforts of some MPs to block them."

"Progress can be more fragile than it appears. Last week's US Supreme Court ruling underlines the importance of protecting and enhancing the rights we have, and never taking them for granted. That is why I am bringing a Bill to introduce buffer zones and ban campaigners from targeting health facilities that provide abortions."