Margaret Thatcher: the first time she ever saw the Northern Irish Parties unite was when they fought abortion legislation in 1990
Phyllis Bowman wrote the following:
"The only time in the past that a Conservative Government whipped on an abortion amendment was in 1990. A group of Labour MPs sought to introduce an amendment to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Bill (now Act) to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. Consequently, the Northern Ireland MPs of all parties asked for a joint meeting with Lady (then Mrs.) Thatcher when they stressed that all the political groups, the churches and a huge majority of the people in Northern Ireland, were opposed to the current abortion law. They urged that it should be left to the people of the Province to decide whether they wanted to change the law or not.
Lady Thatcher said it was the first occasion on which she had known the NI Parties to unite on any issue. Consequently, out of deference to the democratic rights of the people of the Province, the Government adopted an official policy opposing the Labour amendment and Conservative MPs were whipped...
Moreover, she certainly was not sympathetic to the pro-life cause. She voted for the Abortion Act in 1967 and subsequently always supported it. However, to be just, she had a great respect for the conscience vote of her MPs... In addition, although she was straightforward about her views, at no time did she ever seek to influence her MPs by announcing how she would vote on an amendment. (As a footnote, I would add that in her memoirs and in speaking publicly, Lady Thatcher has said that she considers she made a tragic mistake in supporting liberal abortion.)"