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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.”

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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