Messages are left at a memorial to Savita Halappanavar a day after an Abortion Referendum to liberalise abortion laws was passed by popular vote, in Dublin, Ireland May 27, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
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British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a showdown with ministers and lawmakers in her Conservative party after refusing to back reform of Northern Ireland's highly restrictive abortion rules after neighboring Ireland's vote to liberalize its laws.A spokeswoman for May said that changing the rules should only be undertaken by a government in Northern Ireland, which has been without a devolved executive since January last year after a power-sharing agreement collapsed.Anne Milton, an education minister, urged the prime minister to allow a free vote in Britain's Parliament and said she thought there would be "a significant majority" in favor of liberalizing the abortion laws.Northern Ireland's elected assembly has the right to bring its abortion laws in line with the rest of the United Kingdom, but voted against doing so in February 2016 and the assembly has not sat since the devolved government collapsed in January 2017 .The outcome was a new milestone on a path of change for the country of 4.8 million which only legalized divorce by a tiny majority in 1995 before becoming the first in the world to adopt gay marriage by popular vote three years ago.
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