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Ask your MP to vote against forcing NI schools to teach about abortion


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The UK Government has brought forward regulations that would force schools in Northern Ireland to teach students aged 11 to 16 years old (key stages 3 and 4) about abortion.

The regulations were debated by the House of Commons Second Delegated Legislation Committee on Monday 26 June and MPs will vote on them on Wednesday 28 June.

The approach taken by the UK Government has been heavily criticised by the highly respected House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, which is tasked with reviewing the policy effects of statutory instruments and other forms of secondary legislation. The Committee has drawn the regulations to the special attention of the House and published a report detailing their concerns.

The Committee has highlighted that, unusually, there has been no public consultation on the regulations prior to them coming into effect, suggesting that given the controversial nature of the policy change, a full public consultation ought to be conducted. It highlighted how prior to other comparable policy changes, including changes to Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in England, public consultations were carried out.

The Committee also criticised the lack of guarantees that procedures allowing parents to withdraw their children from being taught about abortion will be in place before the policy implementation date. They warned, “The Committee believes that this will be of considerable concern to parents in NI”.

A number of submissions made to the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee were also highly critical of the UK Government’s decision to bring forward the regulations. They included raising concerns that teachers who are morally opposed to abortion would not have the option of opting out of teaching abortion to students.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, has claimed that the regulations will “mirror the approach taken in England”. If this is the case, it is highly controversial to force Northern Ireland schools to teach children about abortion given what is currently being taught regarding abortion in the RSE curriculum in England.

Some very concerning examples of what is currently being taught in schools in England include:

  • England’s RSE guidance states there are “many excellent resources available, free of charge, which schools can draw on”, specifically listing the Sexwise website as a resource for “up to date information on all aspects of sexual and reproductive health…which teachers may find helpful for their knowledge”. Concerns with Sexwise include:
    • The resource outlines how to get an abortion (including late-term abortions) and teaches girls how to go about secretly having an abortion without their parents knowing.
    • Girls who are pregnant are encouraged to book an appointment at an abortion clinic, even if they are unsure about whether they want to have an abortion. 
      • The resource states (‘How do I get an abortion?’ section): “Abortion is safer the earlier it takes place, so even if you’re not certain about your decision, it’s a good idea to get a referral. You’ll always be given time to make up your mind, if you need it”. 
      • Contact details for the three largest abortion providers in the UK, all of whom received the majority of their income from performing abortions, are provided in the resource. 
        • This includes MSI Reproductive Choices (formerly Marie Stopes), which the Care Quality Commission accused of paying staff bonuses for encouraging women to undergo terminations. At all 70 Marie Stopes clinics, inspectors also found evidence of a policy that saw staff utilise a high-pressure sales tactic, calling women who had decided against having an abortion to offer them another appointment. The report also stated that parents, partners or friends of pregnant women who might persuade them to think again about the termination were “seen as an inconvenience” and that “their presence was strongly discouraged”.
  • An RSE Hub developed “to strengthen the quality and consistency of RSE in the South West and nationally” recommends teachers use resources provided by Education for Choice.
    • Its resources are very biased and include extensive misinformation, some examples of which are included below:
      • They state “before the limit of viability (24 weeks in the UK), the foetus is not considered a human being.”
        • To state that an unborn child under 24 weeks is not considered a human being is simply an opinion and should be labelled as such.
        • The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine establishes 22 weeks gestation to be the point of viability and enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks.
      • In the “Why do some people oppose abortion?” section, the EFC states “… if a fertilised cell is a human being, then using a condom or masturbating is tantamount to murder (a view shared by the Catholic Church) as trillions of potential lives die in teenage boys’ bellybuttons every day.”
        • This statement misrepresents the teachings of the Catholic Church, one of the major providers of education in Northern Ireland, along with falsely claiming that those opposed to abortion believe that gametes, unfertilised sperm and eggs, require the same protection in law that an embryo or fetus should have.

Please enter your postcode in the box above to write to your MP asking them to vote against forcing NI schools to teach about abortion.

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Ask your MP to vote against forcing NI schools to teach about abortion