The British government intends to take on new powers that would allow it to compel the Stormont Executive to provide abortion services in Northern Ireland.

The law was liberalised last year following action taken at Westminster.

The DUP and the Ulster Unionist party are likely to challenge the move.

While individual health trusts have set up temporary early medical abortion pathways, Northern Ireland-wide services have not yet been commissioned by the Department of Health.

The view of Health Minister Robin Swann is that the issue is a matter for the full Executive, not just his department.

It would seem the British government is no longer prepared to tolerate the stalemate. Regulations are expected to be brought to Westminster next week that would allow Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis to intervene.

The DUP and perhaps the UUP may seek a judicial review.

They may query the right of the British government to bypass the devolved government structure.

Sinn Féin is pushing the Health Minister to establish services in the different health trusts.

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A UK government spokesperson confirmed there is disappointment that full abortion services have not yet been commissioned, adding "further legislative action at Westminster" is being considered.

The DUP's Westminster leader Jeffrey Donaldson has warned that any move to legislate over the Stormont Executive would "raise serious questions".

Mr Donaldson said he and DUP leader Arlene Foster met Mr Lewis over the matter yesterday.

"Abortion is a devolved matter," he said.

"Any move by an NIO minister to legislate over the head of the Northern Ireland Executive would raise serious questions about when and in what areas the government can make interventions in a devolved administration.

"The DUP would warn the Northern Ireland Office against legislating on a matter which is wholly devolved and we will vigorously oppose such steps."

Mr Donaldson said the new abortion laws were "foisted" on Northern Ireland during the collapse of the power sharing institutions, and claims they would not have been voted through by MLAs.

"Our party leader Arlene Foster and myself had an urgent meeting today with the Secretary of State," he said.

"We underscored that this matter rests with the Health Minister Robin Swann and the government should leave it with the devolved structures to make such decisions.

"We will continue to pursue this matter with the Government in the coming days."

On Monday a motion by DUP MLA Paul Givan seeking to restrict abortions in cases of non-fatal disabilities passed its second reading.

Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill accused the DUP of attempting to "roll back abortion progress" but her MLAs abstained on that vote.

Catholic Bishops have reiterated their position that the plan by the Secretary of State amounts to an unjust law.

Additional reporting PA