So... this is an interesting one, and I’m not going to do it justice (particularly since it’s 1 am here): Since Ireland repealed the 8th Amendment *a week a half ago*, there has been a lot of political pressure to decriminalize abortion in Northern Ireland as well.
A couple things: Northern Ireland doesn’t require a referendum in this because it’s a legislative issue, not a constitutional issue. Ireland had to repeal an amendment to the constitution basically giving greater rights to the “unborn” than to the woman hosting it. Northern Ireland requires repealing (or amending?) Articles 58 & 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861 (Great Britain and Northern Ireland).
As I understand it (and I’m more than a little shaky here), this is an issue for Westminster for multiple reasons, despite Northern Ireland being intended to have a devolved government. First, Northern Ireland doesn’t currently have a functioning parliament because of inability to come to agreement over power sharing. Last I was paying attention, the failure to agree was being blamed on DUP and Sinn Féin being unable to come to an agreement about the status of the Irish Language in Northern Ireland. Also, it looks like the law in question is an all-UK law (particularly considering it dates from the Victorian era, and impacts more than NI and wouldn’t just be for NI to repeal. But perhaps more importantly, this is a human rights issue.
I recommend reading the entire above thread. It also lists numbers from on opinion poll showing strong cross-party support for at least loosening restrictions on abortion. It looks like actual opinion in the North is very similar to that of people in the RoI, which would mean that the stances of political representatives are far less liberal than that of the public.
So anyway, it’s looking like swift movement in at least debating decriminalization in Northern Ireland is happening now, thanks to the landslide in the republic.
Now here’s where it gets extra interesting: Thanks to Theresa May’s disastrous attempt to consolidate power by calling an election in which the Conservative lost the majority instead of gaining seats, the party that caused and is overseeing/mismanaging Brexit is only in power because they went into coalition with the DUP.
The DUP is hardline right-wing religious nutcase on the abortion issue (and other things), not at all representing the majority of Northern Ireland. The DUP is also propping up the Tory government and holding hostage with their “redline” issues, some of which (for instance the DUP’s intransigence in the Border issue) are causing logical impossibilities for negotiating Brexit. (The Good Friday Agreement — an international treaty — and a “hard” Brexit resulting in a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland are mutually incompatible. And the DUP insists that they can’t have different trade rules to Great Britain (despite insisting on having different abortion rules), making a sea border for the customs agreement impossible.)
So the next question is: If Westminster decides to legislate for abortion, will the Tory/DUP coalition collapse? If so, that could not only impact the human rights question of access to abortion in Northern Ireland, it could maybe have an extra bonus result in a general election coming up to Brexit, with the possibility of another government which might hold a second referendum and a vote to withdraw Article 50 and not exit the EU.
I wouldn’t gamble on it, but from this side of the Irish sea, it does look like a lot of people would jump at the chance to un-Brexit, even a good few who voted Leave considering how badly their government has mismanaged the whole Brexit debacle. (And considering the buyers remorse of realizing how badly they’ve been lied to, although with many people of course there’s the digging in because admitting you fell for a scam is hard.)