18 July 2019 – The people of Northern Ireland have thirteen weeks to stop the introduction of one of the worlds most extreme abortion regimes to the province.
MPs today cast a single vote for a group of amendments to the Northern Ireland Bill which included an abortion amendment from the House of Lords which will introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up to 28-weeks, if Stormont does not reconvene by 21 October.
Polling shows that the vast majority of people of Northern Ireland do not want abortion imposed on them by Westminster. Over the last few days, 19,000 people from Northern Ireland have signed a letter that was delivered to Theresa May, yesterday, asking her to intervene and stop her Government forcing an extreme abortion law on Northern Ireland.
It is now up to this strong and highly motivated majority in Northern Ireland to build a movement to secure the return of Stormont.
The group of amendments were passed by 328 to 65. The vote against was lower than the vote on the Creasy amendment last week, this is likely because the group of amendments included a number of other issues.
The amendment voted through had been brought forward by Baroness Barker in the Lords last night as the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill went through Report Stage.
It was clear to all watching the debate in the Lords that rumours that the Barker amendment was drafted with the help of the Government were likely true.
If Stormont does not reconvene, this amendment will bring very substantial change to the law on abortion in Northern Ireland by removing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against The Person Act from the law, which would introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up to 28 weeks to Northern Ireland.
This would leave Northern Ireland with one of the most extreme abortion laws in Europe and they would be far out of line with legislation in the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the UK.
If the change were to go ahead, this would potentially lead to significant numbers coming across the border for abortions from the Republic of Ireland where, post-referendum, abortion is restricted in most cases to 12 weeks gestation. It is also possible that there would be traffic from a number of other countries in Europe as the median gestational time limit for most abortion among EU countries is 12 weeks
Recent polling from ComRes shows that 66% of women and 70% of 18-34-year-olds in Northern Ireland rejected abortion law imposed on Northern Ireland from Westminster.
The Northern Ireland Assembly has considered the issue of abortion much more recently than any other parliament in the United Kingdom. In 2016, a clear majority of the Northern Ireland Assembly, including both Unionists and Nationalists, upheld the law on abortion as it currently stands.
A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Clare McCarthy said:
“The people of Northern Ireland have thirteen weeks to stop the introduction of one of the worlds most extreme abortion regimes to the province.
“Many thousands of people in Northern Ireland are deeply angered and distressed by this action by the Westminster Parliament. The manner in which MPs from Westminster have attempted to impose abortion on a people that do not want it, and who they do not represent, is grossly disrespectful and unconstitutional.
“This horrific abortion law can be stopped. It is up to the people of Northern Ireland to ensure that Stormont reconvenes in order to protect the thousands of lives that would otherwise be lost if this extreme abortion law came into effect.
Over just a couple of days, 19,000 people from Northern Ireland signed a letter that was delivered to Theresa May yesterday, asking her to intervene and not to allow abortion to be forced on Northern Ireland. It is the voices of those 19,000 Northern Irish people who need to be listened to now, by their own politicians, and in their own Government in Northern Ireland.
It’s those 19,000 people, organisations and wider Northern Irish society that now need to come together as soon as possible to build a movement to ensure that Stormont is reconvened.”
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- The open letter to Theresa May can be viewed here: https://righttolife.org.uk/ni-pm-letter/
- A full briefing is available here: https://righttolife.org.uk/news/parliamentary-briefing-abortion-amendment-to-northern-ireland-executive-formation-bill/
- ComRes interviewed 1,013 Northern Irish adults online between 8th and 15th October 2018. Data was weighted to be representative of all Northern Irish adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
- The full report on the 100,000 lives figure is available here: https://bothlivesmatter.org/statistics