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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.”

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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