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Forcing abortion amendments onto a fast-tracked Bill is ‘constitutionally unacceptable’ says Lords Select Committee

A fast-tracked Government Bill which is attempting to introduce radical abortion laws to Northern Ireland had already been heavily criticised by The House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution before the controversial abortion amendments were added. The Committee said fast-tracking legislation “is constitutionally unacceptable save for exceptional and urgent circumstances.”

The Select Committee on the Constitution has joined a chorus of voices in their denunciation of the manner in which amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill – which intends to foist abortion on Northern Ireland – was rushed through Parliament and added to the Bill without regard to ordinary parliamentary procedure.

The radical abortion amendment was only made known on Thursday (04/07), it was only selected 37 minutes before the debate began on Tuesday (09/07), and subsequently voted on later in the afternoon. Usually Bills can take months to go through multiple readings in both Houses of Parliament and often have an element of public consultation. The Northern Ireland Bill however, was rushed through most of the parliamentary stages in less than a week.

The Government is supposed to offer a justification for fast-tracking legislation and according to the report usually does so. However, in this case, the Select Committee said “no such justification has been provided in the explanatory notes to this Bill.”

The Select Committee said that “it can hardly be argued that the need for this legislation was not foreseeable and that it could not have been introduced earlier and proceeded with less haste.”

Parliamentary procedure is considered important because it allows parliamentary and public scrutiny of proposed legislation as well as an assessment of the likely impact of legislation both legally and in society. However, Baroness O’Loan said:

[T]here has been no White Paper, no Green Paper, no consideration of the impact of the provision, no consultation, no explanatory memorandum from [Stella Creasy], no consideration of conflicting current legislative measures. There has been no provision even for this to be done with the proper parliamentary procedure through both Houses of Parliament…

In his speech to the House of Lords, Lord Morrow described the attempt to force abortion on Northern Ireland by subverting ordinary parliamentary procedure as “wholly, totally and utterly unacceptable”.

Clare McCarthy from Right to Life UK said:

“As the Lords’ Select Committee pointed out, we are right to be concerned about the fast-tracking of this Bill. Even the head of Britain’s largest abortion provider, Ann Furedi, recognised that this Bill was forced through without proper scrutiny. Although whatever scruples she may have had about this were quickly forgotten. 

“This shows how pro-abortion lobby in their promotion of abortion, are happy to set asides principles and concerns in regard to parliamentary procedure – regardless of the safeguards that such procedure provides.”

“The haste and manner in which this amendment – that would make such a major change to the law in Northern Ireland – was added to the Bill and rushed through Parliament, is a threat to the democratic process and to the constitution.  

“The discarding of parliamentary procedure for the sake of political ends is extremely concerning. If amendments which radically alter a Bill in this manner can be forced through, it raises questions about what else other political actors might be able to force through too.

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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