Government speeding ahead with extreme Northern Ireland abortion reform

06 September 2019

uk parliament votes to extend abortion and same sex marriage rights to northern ireland
The moment Parliament voted to impose abortion on Northern Ireland.

SPUC is asking supporters to contact their MPs

Today the Government has insisted that fast-tracking Northern Ireland legislation, (such as the Bill that was amended to impose abortion on the Province) through Parliament is necessary due to “the urgency arising within the NI context”. The Northern Ireland Office has rejected recommendations from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that it be consulted before Number 10 uses 'emergency' procedures.

The Government has been criticised for using the emergency fast-tracking powers to pass the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, which contains an extreme measure on abortion. 

Debate on Monday

Yesterday, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland published a report which outlines progress toward the repeal of Northern Ireland’s current abortion law and the regulation of a new, extreme abortion regime.

The report is due to be debated in the House of Commons on Monday 9 September. And SPUC is asking members to contact their MPs, requesting that they attend the debate and speak out against the terrible injustice being inflicted on mothers and babies in Northern Ireland.

The report follows the hijacking of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill by Labour MP Stella Creasy, who tabled an amendment to impose an inhumane abortion regime on Northern Ireland.

"Good progress"

Both in the report, and in a response to a public survey, the Government insists that its preference “remains that any change to law on abortion, which we recognise is a highly sensitive devolved issue, on which there are a wide range of differing views, is taken forward by a restored Executive and functioning Assembly.” However, it says that “the strength of feeling on the issue of abortion law reform” means that it has to legislate.

The report states that good progress has been made in the preparation of regulations including cross-departmental teams working on delivering interim measures for decriminalisation by 22 October, initial scoping of how best to deliver the regulations, and reviewing international models.

Both statements admit that there will be an interim period between the criminal law no longer applying in Northern Ireland and new regulations being introduced.

Protection of unborn undone by Westminster fiat

No mention is made of a public consultation and no consideration is given to the views of Northern Irish MPs, who voted against the amendment, or to the Province’s elected representatives in Stormont, who in 2016 voted to maintain the current law. “This long-standing legal protection of the unborn has been undone by fiat from Westminster, despite the opposition of all of the Northern Ireland MPs who take their seats,” said Liam Gibson, SPUC’s Northern Ireland Political Officer.