One of the biggest Parliamentary votes from a Christian perspective for 50 years will take place imminently at Westminster.
On Monday 8 June, MPs will debate the UK Government's Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020. The debate will take place in Committee Room 14. Any MP will be able to attend the debate and it will be important to let your MP know this. There will then be a vote on the Floor of the House of Commons, possibly Wednesday 10 June, but looking more like it will be some point week beginning 14 June.
It will be a free vote and you may want to let your MP know that how they vote will impact your decision at the next election.
Peers are now expected to debate and vote on the regulations on 15 June.
What has happened?
Last year, with scarcely any warning, MPs from England, Scotland and Wales voted to remove Northern Ireland’s life affirming laws, even though every Northern Irish MP present opposed it. That vote required new legislation; the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020. The Government is expected to table these regulations soon and there will then be limited time to contact MPs and Peers before the votes take place.
We’re urgently asking for as many people as possible from all over the UK to contact their MP asking them to speak and vote against the Regulations when they come before Parliament.
Why does this matter?
- These Regulations would replace Northern Ireland’s previous life-affirming laws with some of the most liberal abortion legislation in Europe. 100,000 people are alive today because the 1967 Abortion Act didn’t apply to Northern Ireland. The Regulations allow abortion on demand until 24 weeks, and up to, and even during birth, for a baby with any kind of disability, even correctable conditions like cleft palette.
- The new law goes much further than the 1967 Act. A woman seeking an abortion up to 12 weeks into pregnancy doesn’t have to give their reason – which might for example, be that the baby is the ‘wrong’ sex. Instead of needing the agreement of two doctors as in Great Britain, only one medical professional - doctor, nurse or midwife –needs to sign it off. And anyone convicted of performing an illegal abortion is treated far more lightly; rather than facing a prison sentence as under the 1967 Act, an offender would just be fined up to £5,000.
- What’s happening in Northern Ireland is hugely significant for England, Wales and Scotland. If these Regulations are passed it will make it much easier for pro-choice MPs to argue for similar changes throughout the UK. They’ve already made it plain that they will use the Domestic Abuse Bill, most likely waiting for the later stages of the Bill, to introduce amendments to bring abortion law in England and Wales into line with what they hope will be the new law in Northern Ireland.