NI Peer calls on people to ‘make their voices heard’ and demand the rejection of extreme abortion regime

A leading pro-life campaigner and member of the House of Lords has called on Northern Ireland residents to “make their voices heard” and demand the new extreme abortion regime regulations are not approved.

Baroness Nuala O’Loan told Irish News it would be “very wrong” if the extreme abortion regime was “approved without proper consideration and without taking into account the views of the people of Northern Ireland”.

Her comments come ahead of a parliamentary vote on the abortion regulations on 12 May. If MPs vote down the regulations on Tuesday it will send a very strong signal to the Government that these extreme regulations should not be imposed on Northern Ireland.

They will then be forced to redraft the regulations to be less extreme or bring forward legislation to allow the new Parliament to vote revoke these regulations, giving back control to the people of Northern Ireland through the Northern Ireland Assembly.

URGENT: VOTE IS THIS TUESDAY

Last year, in the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly, politicians in Westminster voted to impose an extreme abortion regime on the province.

The new regime, which also allows de facto abortion for any reason up to 24 weeks and disability abortion right up to birth, came into force as law on 31 March.

Despite 79% of consultation respondents stating opposition to changes in Northern Ireland’s abortion legislation, the UK Government went far beyond what was legally required of them when they imposed radical changes to the law governing terminations in the province.

Baroness Nuala O’Loan says “the UK Government did not listen to the many responses from Northern Ireland opposing this law” and adds that “it is now time for the Assembly to make its voice heard, to debate the issue and to reclaim its power over abortion”.

URGENT: VOTE IS THIS TUESDAY

Last week, a highly influential House of Lords Committee criticised the UK Government over its approach in imposing abortion on Northern Ireland.

The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, which scrutinises legislation parliament has granted the Government power to introduce, released a report highlighting a number of concerns with the new regulations.

In his submission to the committee, Northern Ireland’s Attorney General said that the UK Government exceeded its powers as it radically changed abortion law in the province.

John Larkin QC said: “This is of political and legal significance and, given that the relevant judgement call is best made by a local legislature, it may be inappropriate for the provision to have been so limited in light of the changed political context.”

The Attorney General also told the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee it was “disproportionate” to require healthcare professionals in any capacity “to act contrary to their conscience” and that it “would have been possible” for Westminster to introduce broader conscience protections.