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MPs vote to approve extreme abortion regime in Northern Ireland

MPs have voted 253 to 136 in favour of a motion approving the UK Government’s extreme abortion regime in Northern Ireland.

The vote comes two days after the House of Lords voted to approve the regulations and means the extreme abortion regime in Northern Ireland will remain in place.

However, it also means the people of Northern Ireland through the Northern Ireland Assembly now have power over their own abortion regulations, and can amend what the UK Government has imposed on them.

While today’s vote in the House of Commons is a defeat for pro-life campaigners and the people of Northern Ireland, the vote indicates that there has been a large decrease in the number of pro-abortion MPs and an increase in the number of pro-life MPs in the House of Commons since the 2019 election, which our analysis of the election result suggested.

Before the new intake of MPs, in the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly, a vote to impose abortion on Northern Ireland in July 2019 was passed by 332 votes to 99.

Under the new regulations, abortion is allowed up to the point of birth for all disabilities, including cleft lip, club foot and Down’s syndrome.

The regulations also introduce de-facto abortion on demand through to 24-weeks and allow sex-selective abortion through 12-weeks.

This has resulted in widespread opposition to the new regulations, particularly from the people of Northern Ireland, Northern Irish MPs and Northern Irish MLAs. 

Earlier this month, the Northern Ireland Assembly passed a motion opposing the regulations which have been imposed on the province by the UK Government.

Across the two votes held, 75 of 90 MLAs voted against the provisions in the regulations allowing abortion for non-fatal disabilities.

79% of respondents to the Government consultation on the regulations were opposed to any abortion provision in Northern Ireland beyond what was previously permitted. 

Additionally, an open letter signed by over 18,000 people from Northern Ireland was delivered to the Prime Minister on Tuesday by disability campaigner Heidi Crowter who has Down’s syndrome. The letter called on MPs to oppose the regulations and let the Northern Ireland Assembly decide on abortion law for Northern Ireland.

A spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“Today is an incredibly tragic day for Northern Ireland, for the unborn child and everyone who supports the right to life.

“Despite the efforts of tens of thousands of Northern Irish people, MLAs, Northern Irish MPs and pro-life campaigners, like Heidi Crowter, the UK Government’s extreme abortion legislation continues to be in place as a result of today’s vote.

“And while we may not have been able to get the result we wanted today, the campaigning of tens of thousands of people has helped get a larger group of MPs taking a pro-life position on these regulations than the last similar vote.

“However, this is by no means the end.

“The battle on these regulations now moves to Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Assembly. MLAs must now urgently bring forward to repeal these extreme abortion regulations.”

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.