4 out of 5 Tory leadership hopefuls support devolution and not imposing abortion on Northern Ireland

None of the five candidates who are standing to be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom have said they are in favour of directly undermining devolution and forcing abortion on the people of Northern Ireland.

There are strong pro-life protections in Northern Ireland where abortion remains a devolved issue. This means that the 1967 Abortion Act does not apply and there are 100,000 people alive today because of this. None of the leadership candidates have given any indication that they are in favour of directly undermining devolution in this area.

This is a position supported by 72% of Conservative MPs and the majority of women in Northern Ireland.

The Conservative leadership hopefuls were asked whether they would impose abortion on Northern Ireland from Westminster. Here’s what each candidate said:

Boris Johnson – did not respond to a request for comment.

Rory Stewart –  A spokesperson said the “fundamental point is that Rory is passionately committed to women’s right to choose” but he “also believes that ideally devolved issues should be settled by devolved administrations.”

Michael Gove – a campaign source said: Michael’s preference is that we should have the same laws on such issues across the whole of the UK, but under the devolution settlement, changes in laws affecting Northern Ireland should be a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive.”

Sajid Javid – A source close to the minister said: “Saj recognises this is a devolved matter and we have to respect that.”

Jeremy Hunt – a spokesperson said:“This is a devolved issue and is yet another reason why we must get Stormont up and running again. Jeremy would support any changes locally accountable politicians wished to implement.”

Jeremy Hunt has made clear however that he would be supportive of a law to reduce the abortion limit from 24 weeks to 12 weeks.

Clare McCarthy of Right To Life UK said: “It is very good news that almost all of the Tory leadership hopefuls intend to respect devolution and would not impose abortion on Northern Ireland from Westminster.”

“Abortion is a devolved issue and it is not for Westminster to force extreme abortion laws onto the region. The most recent vote on this in 2016, showed that a clear majority of the Northern Ireland Assembly, upheld the law on abortion as it currently stands.

“There are 100,000 people alive in Northern Ireland today because Northern Ireland did not adopt Britain’s abortion law when it was introduced. Laws do make a difference.”

To see a full record of how all the leadership hopefuls have voted on abortion click here.

(Photo credit Adobe Stock:Pineapples)

Press release: Abortion stats published – number highest in 10 years


Abortion number highest in 10 years, the latest statistics show

13 June 2019 – Abortion statistics released by the Department for Health show that abortion numbers hit a ten year high with 205,295 abortions. The number of abortions for residents of England and Wales was 200,608 – the highest number ever.

The figures show that:

  • In England and Wales, there was a total of 205,295 abortions in 2018, an increase of 7,762 abortions from 2017 when there were 197,533 abortions.
    • 200,608 of these abortions were for residents of England and Wales.
  • The statistics for 2018 also show a rise in repeat abortions from 74,204 in 2017 up to 78,998 in 2018.
    • This represented 4,794 more repeat abortions than in 2017.
    • This also represented an 11% increase from 2016 when there were 71,126.
  • 111 ‘selective termination’ procedures were performed, where a twin, triplet or more were aborted in the womb.
  • There were 3,269 disability-selective abortions in 2018
    • There was a 19% increase in late-term abortions for disability (24-week gestation and over) up to 283 from 237 in 2017. This represents a 128% increase compared to 2008 when there were 124.
    • 618 of these were for Down’s syndrome.
    • 15 of these were for cleft/lip palate, an increase of 50% compared to 2014 when there were 10.
  • The Department of Health also reported that the number of abortions funded by the NHS performed by private abortion providers reached a record high of 144,618. This represents 72% of abortions, up from 70% in 2017. It also represents a 234% increase since 1999 when there 43,266 performed by private providers.
    • This increase in abortions comes as private abortion providers have been accused of persuading women to have abortions. A report from Care Quality Commission accused Marie Stopes International of paying staff bonuses for encouraging women to undergo terminations.
    • At all 70 Marie Stopes clinics, inspectors also found evidence of a policy which 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”.

A spokesperson for Right to Life, Clare McCarthy said:

“It is a national tragedy that 205,295 lives were lost to abortion in 2018. This is the highest the abortion rate has been at in 10 years. Every one of these abortions represents a failure of our society to protect the lives of babies in the womb and a failure to offer full support to women with unplanned pregnancies.

“Polling shows large majorities of women in the UK support changes to our abortion laws that would have a positive impact on lowering the number of abortions. 70% of women want the current time limit on abortion to be lowered and 91% of women want a ban on sex-selective abortion.

“Proposals from abortion campaigners to remove legal restrictions around abortion and introduce abortion right to birth would likely see these numbers get even worse.

“We are calling on the Government to urgently bring forward sensible new restrictions and increased support for women with unplanned pregnancies. This would ensure we were working together as a society to reduce the tragic number of abortions that happen each year.

“This increase in abortions comes as private abortion clinics have been accused by the Care Quality Commission of paying staff bonuses for persuading women to undergo abortions.

“Vulnerable women should not be seen as a revenue opportunity but sadly we know this is not the reality as abortion itself is a multi-million pound industry. Private abortion clinics have a vested monetary interest in increasing the numbers of abortions they perform every year.”