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Northern Irish ‘pro-life’ party walk out of Stormont preventing bill to stop extreme abortion law passing

The Social Democrat and Labour Party (SDLP), a self-proclaimed pro-life party, walked out of Stormont yesterday sabotaging a bill that would have prevented Northern Ireland having the most extreme abortion laws in Europe being imposed on them.

Before Stormont sat yesterday, the DUP had asked the incumbent Speaker if he would allow a Private Members Bill, which would have prevented Westminster imposing an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, to be debated and voted on, before the formation of an Executive. 

The incumbent Speaker declined this request, ruling that an Executive must be formed through the election of a Speaker and Deputy Speaker must be conducted before The Defence of the Unborn Child Act 2019 could be discussed. 

The role of Speaker can only be elected with cross-community support, from at least one nationalist and one unionist party. 

Both Sinn Fein and Alliance boycotted yesterday’s sitting, leaving the SDLP as the only nationalist party in the room able to form an Executive. 

However, the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood dismissed the move to protect unborn babies as a political stunt. Before walking out of Stormont he addressed the house saying that the SDLP “will not provide cross-community support for the election of a Speaker”.

By walking out – making it impossible to elect a Speaker – the SDLP made the decision not to support the efforts to stop Northern Ireland having Europe’s most extreme abortion laws imposed on them by Westminster.

Following the SDLP’s walk-out, DUP leader Arlene Foster noted that Northern Ireland would now have one of the most liberal abortion regimes in Europe. She said it was a “very sad” and “shameful day”.

TUV leader Jim Allister told the media: “There was a definite pathway here but it was blockaded both by Sinn Féin and the SDLP, and particular shame on the SDLP who parade, on occasions their pro-life credentials.”

Nationalist voter Mary Lewis said:

“As a nationalist, I’m shocked that the SDLP, a party who claim they are pro-life, and the nationalist Sinn Fein have willingly allowed the UK Parliament to legislate for the people of Northern Ireland and impose the most extreme abortion law in Europe on our small province, without consideration of the devolution settlement.

“As an SDLP voter, I am appalled that the SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood, has dismissed an attempt to save lives of unborn children as a political stunt. I am further shocked that his party chose to walk out of the chamber which meant that the attempt to introduce a bill to stop Westminster imposing abortion on Northern Ireland would have blocked.

“There is no way that anyone from the SDLP can now call themselves pro-life. There is also no way that they can call themselves Nationalist when they actively blocked an attempt to stop Westminster imposing legislation on Northern Ireland. There is no way I will be ever voting for the SDLP again.”

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.