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UK Parliament abortion fight now moves onto the Lords

MPs voted 332 – 99 in favour of undermining the sovereignty of Northern Ireland by voting for an amendment which has the potential to lead to widespread changes to abortion legislation in Northern Ireland and possibly also England and Wales.

Yesterday evening (Tuesday 08/07), several abortion related amendments were chosen to be debated in relation to a Bill intended to extend the period for the formation of an Executive in Northern Ireland. A number of MPs were deeply critical of the fact that these amendments were accepted by the Chair of the debate, Dame Eleanor Laing MP. The abortion amendments were not related to the substance of the Bill at all and so, it was argued, were “out of scope” of the Bill.

Ian Paisley MP said during the debate: “This Bill is called the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, yet the debate has been pretty thin on how an Executive could be formed again in Northern Ireland. In fact, we have had a debate about every other ​issue under the sun except what we are supposed to be debating.”

In addition to the abortion amendments being criticised for being beyond the scope of the Bill, MPs were keen to point out that the supposed ‘right to abortion’ to which those advocating for abortion in Northern Ireland appealed, does not, in fact, exist: as Mr Paisley said “there is no right to abortion in any international treaties.”

Abortion remains a devolved issue in Northern Ireland and pro-abortion MP, Maria Miller, made clear that she could not support these amendments because of their potentially wide-reaching effects on the whole of the UK and the devolution settlement in Northern Ireland. The DUP’s Westminster leader, Nigel Dodds MP, added that the amendments would “drive a coach and horses through the principle of devolution”.

In an unusual move, the Scottish National Party, which makes a point of abstaining in devolved matters (having their own devolved powers, they respect the devolved powers of other regions in the United Kingdom) abandoned its own principles and allowed a vote for its members on these amendments.

Having passed through the Committee stage with the abortion amendment accepted, the Bill will now proceed to the House of Lords in the coming days with the second reading this afternoon (10/07) and concluding with the Report stage on Wednesday (17/07).

Even if the Bill proceeds through all stages with the abortion amendment intact, the Bill contains a clause which means that should the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont return by 21 October 2019, the amendment will not have any effect and any changes to abortion law in Northern Ireland, England and Wales will not go ahead.

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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