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DUP deputy leader clarifies position on commissioning of abortion in Northern Ireland

The new deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Paula Bradley, has clarified her position on the commissioning of abortion services, following an interview broadcast last night.

In the statement released this afternoon, Paula Bradley MLA said: “The issue of abortion is one of the most sensitive for any legislature to deal with and it is vital that everyone approaches it with compassion and care”.

“The DUP is a pro-life party, and our manifesto is clear in the desire to protect both mothers and unborn life. There has been some misrepresentation of the Party’s policy in this area but our stance is clear and has not changed”.

“Abortion legislation and any associated commissioning is a devolved matter. It should be decided upon by the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive rather than at Westminster. The DUP has not called for and will not call for the ‘full commissioning of abortion services”.

Proposals to introduce full commissioning of abortion services and ‘DIY’ home abortion to Northern Ireland

In March this year, the Irish Times reported that Sinn Féin had announced that it would bring forward a paper to the Northern Ireland Executive calling for Health Minister, Robin Swann, to commission full abortion services. The full commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland would include abortion up-to-birth for babies with disabilities, de-facto abortion on demand to 24 weeks and allowing sex-selective abortions on demand through to 12 weeks.

Last week it was reported by the BBC that Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann has also brought forward a paper on the commissioning of abortion services to the Executive. This included a ‘short-term’ option of introducing a telemedicine abortion service which would introduce ‘DIY’ home abortions to the region.

The DUP has blocked any papers from discussion at the Executive, ensuring that these proposals have not been introduced to Northern Ireland.

Paula Bradley interviewed on UTV’s View From Stormont

In an interview broadcast yesterday evening on UTV’s View From Stormont, the DUP’s new deputy leader, Paula Bradley, was asked about her position on abortion.

In the interview, Paula Bradley said: “Do I agree with abortion at full-term? Absolutely, I don’t. Do I agree that if a baby is less than perfect that they should be aborted? No, I don’t”.

Paula Bradley then appeared to contradict herself.

The presenter asked: “Do you believe then that the DUP should allow the paper on abortion services to go ahead? Because that is a legal right for women here in Northern Ireland, and they are not availing of it”.

Paula Bradley replied: “I think we do need to discuss this. I think it needs to be brought forward. We can’t run away from it. We can’t shy away from it. That discussion does need to take place because there are women there that are having to travel, that are being put under an awful lot more pressure because of decisions they have to make – the most difficult decisions in their life”.

Sinn Féin made it clear that its proposed paper called for the Health Minister, Robin Swann, to commission full abortion services, which would include the full commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland. This would include abortion up-to-birth for babies with disabilities, de-facto abortion on demand to 24 weeks and allowing sex-selective abortions. 

Similarly, given the early availability of Non-Invasive Pre-Natal Testing, Robin Swann’s proposal of a telemedicine service allowing for abortion on request through to 10 weeks would allow for babies with disabilities to be aborted using the service.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said: “We welcome the clarification from DUP deputy leader Paula Bradley, on her stance on the commissioning of abortion services”.

“Right To Life UK is a non-party-political organisation. We have consistently called out parties from all sides of the political spectrum when they have brought forward policies that would end the lives of more babies through abortion. Similarly, we applaud policies from any party that seeks to save lives from abortion, no matter which party they are from”.

“The DUP has consistently ensured that proposals to introduce the commissioning of abortion services have been blocked from the Executive. A very large number of pro-lifers in Northern Ireland have consistently voted for DUP candidates in elections because of their strong position opposing abortion. If the DUP were to depart from this position, it is likely that many more lives would be lost to abortion in Northern Ireland”.

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.