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DUP manifesto 2024 – “unashamedly pro-life”, oppose abortion and assisted suicide

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has described itself as “unashamedly pro-life”, said that it does not believe silent prayer should be criminalised and has stated its opposition to the legalisation of assisted suicide.

In its manifesto released ahead of the General Election next month, the DUP has said it is “unashamedly pro-life and continues to oppose the radical abortion laws foisted on communities in Northern Ireland”. Among its pro-life credentials, the manifesto boasts that DUP MPs have “opposed the commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland” in 2019 when English, Welsh and Scottish MPs in Westminster voted to impose an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland.

While MPs from most parties have some MPs who have voted in favour of pro-life legislation and against pro-abortion legislation, the DUP is the only party that had sitting MPs prior to the election being called that clearly states that, as a party, it is pro-life.

DUP MPs were also supportive of Heidi Crowter, a woman with Down’s syndrome who took the UK Government to court over the discriminatory abortion law that allows abortion up to birth for babies with Down’s syndrome.

DUP MPs also opposed regulations to impose teaching about abortion on schools in Northern Ireland as well as opposing the legislation making at-home abortions a permanent aspect of the law.

Regarding the implementation of buffer zones around abortion clinics, the DUP state they “do not believe prayer, including silent prayer, should be criminalised or regarded as anti-social behaviour”, and they will review existing legislation that adversely impacts those who “seek to reasonably express their pro-life beliefs in the public square”.

While the Green Party is the only major party to support the introduction of assisted suicide, the DUP is the only party that had sitting MPs prior to the election being called to unequivocally oppose efforts to make assisted suicide legal.

Carla Lockhart, former DUP MP who is standing for re-election in Upper Bann in Northern Ireland, was the chair for the All Party Parliamentary pro-life group during the last Parliament.

Abortion in Northern Ireland

Abortion statistics released last week by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland reveal that 2,168 lives were ended through abortion in the year from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023, an increase of 413 (23.53%) from the year ending 31 March 2022.

Despite abortion being a devolved issue, English, Welsh and Scottish MPs in Westminster voted in July 2019 to impose an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland. No MPs representing a Northern Ireland constituency voted in support of imposing the new regime on Northern Ireland.

The figures represent a very large increase compared to the number of abortions that were taking place in England and Wales for Northern Ireland residents prior to abortion being imposed on Northern Ireland, along with the small number of abortions that took place in Northern Ireland. This demonstrates that the introduction of an extreme abortion regime to Northern Ireland has likely resulted in the lives of many more babies from Northern Ireland being lost to abortion.

In 2018, 1,053 abortions for Northern Ireland residents were carried out in England and Wales, and 1,014 in 2019. For the year ended 31 March 2018, 12 abortions took place in Northern Ireland and 8 for the year ended 31 March 2019.

100,000 alive today as a result of Northern Ireland’s previous pro-life laws

Prior to this extreme abortion regime being imposed on Northern Ireland, there were strong protections for the unborn, with abortion limited to situations when a mother’s life was in danger. 

As a result of the previous pro-life laws that were in place in Northern Ireland, in January 2017 it was estimated that 100,000 people were alive in Northern Ireland who would not have been if abortion were available as it was in the rest of the UK under the 1967 Abortion Act.

An estimated one in ten people under 50 were alive because of Northern Ireland’s distinctive abortion laws. The Northern Ireland group, Both Lives Matter, who commissioned an economist to conduct this analysis said close to 3,000 people were “being born each year who might not otherwise be. That’s equivalent to around 100 school classes every year”.

The 100,000 figure was confirmed by the Advertising Standards Authority in 2017.

Prior to the extreme abortion law being imposed on Northern Ireland, polling from ComRes showed a strong majority of women in Northern Ireland rejected interference from Westminster on this sensitive issue with two-thirds agreeing that this was a decision for Northern Ireland. The strongest support among age groups surveyed came from the youngest age group, 18-34 year olds, with 70% agreeing that they did not want abortion law imposed on Northern Ireland from Westminster. 

Find out where individual MP candidates stand on abortion

Alongside DUP MP candidates, other candidates are standing in Northern Ireland constituencies for the 2024 General Election who take a pro-life position on abortion.

Constituents in Northern Ireland who want to find out where their local MP candidates stand on abortion are being encouraged to visit where it takes 30 seconds to ask their MP candidates to sign the Both Lives Pledge.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “Aside from the Liberal Democrats’ position on abortion and the Green Party’s position on assisted suicide, during this election, parties that had sitting MPs prior to the election being called have so far refused to commit to an explicit position on abortion or euthanasia. It is encouraging however that the DUP remain explicitly opposed to both practices and will continue to advocate for unborn babies and their mothers”.

“Legally speaking, Northern Ireland was the most pro-life place in the UK until 2019 when Westminster voted to impose abortion on the region. The DUP were outspoken in their opposition to this change and remain supportive of legislation that protects unborn babies and their mothers”.

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.