Yesterday in the House of Commons, the Northern Ireland abortion regulations were passed by a Committee.
The regulations introduce a legal framework for abortion in Northern Ireland. They allow for abortion functionally on request up to 24 weeks, and up to birth if the baby has a serious disability. Abortions can also be certified by just one doctor, nurse or midwife up to 12 weeks.
Pro-life MPs speak out
Several MPs spoke boldly about the value of life in the Committee, and how the UK Parliament has ignored devolution and the will of the people of NI.
Jim Shannon spoke of the strength of public feeling on this issue in NI:
Ian Paisley described the process by which abortion law was changed as "an affront to the people of Northern Ireland". He commented that the Northern Ireland Assembly have been “denied a vote on the issue.”
Carla Lockhart condemned the idea that the Government have sought a balanced approach in drawing up the regulations:
Defending the unborn
Both Ian Paisley and MP and Carla Lockhart MP spoke of the rights of the preborn, who are completely ignored in the regulations:
Carla Lockhart highlighted the reality that there are two lives involved in every pregnancy:
Regulations are discriminatory
Several MPs also spoke of the discriminatory nature of the new abortion framework.
Sir John Hayes MP condemened the provision in the regulations for abortion up to birth for disability. He also paid tribute to a new Bill being introduced by a cross-party group of MPs that seeks to ban abortion for minor, easily correctable conditions such as cleft palate or club foot:
Regulations ignore will of NI Assembly
The Regulations were passed despite the fact that the NI Assembly rejected the imposition of abortion legislation in a vote just last week, specifically the provision to allow abortion up to birth for non-fatal disabilities.
Carla Lockhart MP highlighted this to the Minister:
The Government claimed that the regulations can only be changed by the NI Assembly if they are compliant with the UN CEDAW (the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) Committee’s report on abortion in Northern Ireland. This report formed the basis of the legalisation passed by MPs last summer, imposing abortion on NI.
However, according to an expert legal opinion obtained by CARE, the CEDAW report is non-binding and represents the opinion of a sub-committee of the UN only.
The regulations were also passed despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of those who responded to the public consultation on the new framework – 79 per cent – expressed their opposition to any change in the law on abortion in NI.
The regulations will now move to the House of Lords and will need to be passed there in a committee.
CARE believes that abortion not only ends the life of a person, but it also does not lead to a society where women truly flourish.
It is tragic that MPs in the House of Commons, the majority of whom do not represent the people of Northern Ireland, passed regulations that mandate the destruction of life and discriminate against people with disabilities.
We want to work for a society where abortion is unthinkable, and women and babies are protected. We will continue to fight the imposition of this law on Northern Ireland alongside the many thousands of people who oppose it. We will continue to seek a better way in every crisis pregnancy in NI: where women are truly supported and cared for, and where babies are protected and given the dignity and rights afforded to all people.