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Peers grill Government over NI minister abortion powers

A large group of Peers has grilled the Conservative Government whip, Viscount Younger of Leckie, over the Northern Ireland (Abortion) Regulations Bill 2021, which will grant the NI Secretary sweeping new powers to impose expanded abortion on Northern Ireland through the commissioning of abortion services.  

This came after the 26 April debate in which MPs voted by 431 to 89 to approve the new regulations. 

Lack of public consultation

An amendment to the regulations was moved by Baroness O’Loan, which proposed a rejection of the regulations on the basis that the Northern Ireland Assembly is now sitting and the matter is devolved to that legislature. The amendment outlined that enacting the new regulation would undermine the devolution settlement in respect of education as well as abortion policy.

Baroness O’Loan highlighted the lack of “public consultation on the Regulations”, given that they were laid shortly before Parliament’s Easter recess, which prevented the House from considering them before they took effect.

Not internationally obligated

Lord Morrow, who tabled an amendment that also focused on the regulation’s threat to devolution, added “100,000 people are alive in Northern Ireland today who would not have been had we embraced the Abortion Act in 1967 along with the other jurisdictions in GB”.

“It was argued [in July 2019] that Parliament was duty-bound to pass the amendment that became Section 9 because Northern Ireland was in violation of international human rights convention obligations under CEDAW and the recommendations of the 2018 committee report on Northern Ireland”.

“The Government now confirm[s] that paragraphs 85 and 86 of the CEDAW committee report do not constitute legally binding international obligations”.

Disability discrimination

Lord Shinkwin, who was himself born with the brittle bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta, spoke powerfully on the issue of disability discrimination in the case of abortion time limits within the regulations.

“That is ultimately what the regulations are about: death for disability—in other words, state-sanctioned, state-sponsored lethal disability discrimination”.

“…despite the immense sacrifices of my grandparents’ generation, who fought and died in the war, the eugenicist poison that informed Adolf Hitler’s Aktion T4 euthanasia programme against disabled human beings is now informing government policy and being imposed on the people of Northern Ireland”.

Undermining devolution

‘Pro-choice’ peer Baroness Fox said that while she “look[ed] at the abortion arrangements that they allow for women in Northern Ireland with some envy…the imposition of these regulations by Westminster decree without consent—indeed, in flagrant defiance of a rejection of these regulations by democratically elected Northern Ireland politicians—is an obvious flouting of democracy”.

Baroness Hoey similarly argued that “Today’s debate is not about abortion: it is about allowing a devolved Government to make their own decision on a devolved matter”.

The value of every life

Lord McCrea argued that not only would the regulations “throw a hand grenade into the fragile structures of devolution” but that “[o]ver these past years, we have spent billions to save life, yet in this one-and-a-half-hour debate we are being asked to sanction the killing of the unborn child”. 

Lord Dodds, who is himself the father of a child born with a disability, spoke powerfully: “I entirely understand what he [Lord McCrea] said. I have spoken to, and been friendly with, many families with children with disabilities. They have found their family lives richly rewarding and speak powerfully to the value of every life”. 

Lord Taylor affirmed his view that life begins “from the moment of conception”, and added “… A womb is not a tomb…”

“Abortion, in the dictionary, means abandonment, death, destruction, expulsion, cancellation, rescission, revocation and feticide—cold, hard, final words which cannot be reversed”.

What happens next?

Following this vote in the House of Lords, the Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, will now decide whether or not to proceed with using his new powers to impose expanded abortion access on Northern Ireland.

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

Thanks to the support from people like you, last year a major attempt to hijack the UK Government’s flagship Domestic Abuse Bill with two extreme abortion proposals failed, in a major pro-life victory.

Unfortunately, this is not the end for our opposition.

We are currently facing major threats on five separate fronts:

  1. Pro-abortion MP Rupa Huq has brought forward an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to introduce a jail term of up to two years if a pro-lifer offers support or advice to a woman near an abortion clinic. This is a threat to unborn babies and to freedom of speech.
  2. The assisted suicide lobby has brought forward a bill to legalise assisted suicide, which was introduced to the House of Lords on 26 May.
  3. The Northern Ireland Secretary has given himself new powers to force expanded abortion services on Northern Ireland.
  4. The abortion lobby is further exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to attempt to make dangerous ‘DIY’ home abortions available permanently.
  5. The abortion lobby is expected to make another attempt to change abortion law to allow abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth.

If these major threats from our opposition are successful, it would be a disaster. Thousands of lives would be lost. 

Fighting both the abortion and assisted suicide lobbies over this period has already made a huge dent in Right To Life UK's limited resources.

To cover this gap and ensure we effectively defeat these proposals during this period, we must raise at least £200,000.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to please give as generously as you can. Every donation, no matter how small, will make a significant difference.

By stopping these threats, YOU can save lives over this coming period.

Will you make a special gift right now to help protect vulnerable lives from these threats?

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Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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