Press release: Abortion lobby amendment passes

9 July 2019 – An amendment, NC10, that was brought forward to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill in an attempt to introduce abortion to Northern Ireland was passed today in the House of Commons by 332 to 99 votes. 

Recent polling from ComRes showed a strong majority of women in Northern Ireland reject interference from Westminster on this sensitive issue with two-thirds agreeing that this was a decision for Northern Ireland. The strongest support among age groups surveyed came from the youngest age group, 18-34 year olds, with 70% agreeing that they did not want abortion law imposed on Northern Ireland from Westminster. 

The Northern Ireland Assembly has considered the issue of abortion much more recently than any other parliament in the United Kingdom. In 2016, a clear majority of the Northern Ireland Assembly, including both Unionists and Nationalists, upheld the law on abortion as it currently stands.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Clare McCarthy said:

“This amendment is an unconstitutional and disrespectful attempt to override devolution in Northern Ireland and to attempt to impose abortion on demand on the Northern Irish people. The law on this issue should be a decision for the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives, not for MPs in Westminster to decide.

“It is totally constitutionally inappropriate to bring forward abortion amendments to a Bill which has nothing to do with abortion in any way, to legislate on such a sensitive matter. Any imposition of abortion law on Northern Ireland from Westminster would undermine devolution and the Good Friday Agreement. 

“No consultation on this amendment was possible. The people of Northern Ireland had next to no opportunity to voice their opinions.

“Westminster must respect the principle and spirit of devolution and ensure the people of Northern Ireland, through their elected representatives, get to decide on what law and policy should apply in that jurisdiction. 

ENDS

  • For additional quotes and media interviews contact Clare McCarthy on 078 336 61532 or email press@righttolife.org.uk 
  • For further information on Right To Life visit www.righttolife.org.uk
  • ComRes interviewed 1,013 Northern Irish adults online between 8th and 15th October 2018. Data was weighted to be representative of all Northern Irish adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
  • Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley stated in the Houses of Parliament recently (September 5, 2018) that:
    • “Abortion is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland and this means it is only right that questions of laws and policy on abortion, including the legality of any medicines, are decided by a devolved government.”
  • Deputy chair of the Conservative party James Cleverly has spoken out about abortion and devolution:
    • “You can’t claim to respect NI devolution but then demand that it be ignored because an issue is ‘important’,” he said. “The sensitivity about saying ‘the Republic of Ireland have done it so Northern Ireland should do it too’ cannot be overstated either.”
  • Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party has also warned against imposing abortion laws on Northern Ireland:
    • “If I was a politician in Northern Ireland, I would absolutely 100% vote to change the law. But as someone who operates in a devolved administration, I know how angry I would be if the House of Commons legislated on a domestic Scottish issue over the head of Holyrood”.
  • In a House of Commons debate (June 5, 2018) SNP MP Deirdre Brock MP said:
    • Likewise, the issue of abortion in Northern Ireland is a devolved matter and is an issue for the people of the Northern Ireland and the people they elect to the Assembly. It is a matter devolved and, frankly, it matters not a jot whether the decisions made at Stormont, when it is sitting, are agreeable to Members sitting here. That is the point of devolution, a point that some Members of this place have been spectacularly slow to appreciate at times. The decisions of devolved Administrations are taken for reasons that people in those devolved nations understand from their point of view, and they are taken using evidence that the people, politicians and policymakers of those devolved nations consider important.”