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Press Release: Right To Life Condemns Minister for Equalities Plan to Pay for Northern Irish Abortions As Northern Ireland Court of Appeal Gives Matter to Stormont

Right To Life condemns the disgraceful decision by Justine Greening MP, the Minister for Women and Equalities, to pay for the abortions of Northern Irish women travelling to England for abortions. This happens on the same day as the Belfast Court of Appeal rejected a ruling that Northern Irish law violates the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and stated that it is up to the Stormont Assembly to decide NI abortion legislation.

The decision by the Minister for Equalities is anti-democratic, and it undermines both real equality and human rights. It is anti-democratic, because it not only violates the traditional neutrality of the UK Government on abortion (aside from carrying out the decisions of the Westminster Parliament), but undermines the devolved issue of abortion in Northern Ireland by threatening to void the effects of such legislation.

The Minister for Equalities has run roughshod over the democracy and constitutional competencies of Northern Ireland and its Assembly, by imposing a policy that directly interferes with the intended effects of their laws. It is up to the people of Northern Ireland, in their representatives elected to the Stormont Assembly to decide on the matters of health and justice that have been devolved to their political institutions. Not English Ministers in the UK Government.

The UK Supreme Court already ruled this month that there is no right of Northern Irish women to have abortions paid for by the British State. Indeed, the Belfast Court of Appeals only today rejected a ruling by Justice Horner that the Northern Irish abortion law violated human rights standards, and re-affirmed that it is the role of the Assembly to vote on these issues rather than the courts.

By making this decision, Greening and the UK Government have contradicted the Courts, over-ridden the Northern Irish Assembly and people, abandoned their traditional neutrality, and even worse, have violated true equality and human rights by committing themselves to increasing the number of unborn babies killed by abortion in Northern Ireland.

RTL Executive Officer Peter D. Williams said:

This decision is an illiberal, anti-democratic, anti-constitutional, disgrace. It will lead to the deaths of many more unborn children, despite the deliberate wish of the Northern Irish people to maintain protections for unborn children from their province, a choice’ that has meant that 100,000 Northern Irish are alive today because the Abortion Act 1967 was never extended there.

Earlier today, we saw a victory for democracy and human rights, most particularly the right to life of unborn children, as the Courts wisely refused to recognise any non-existent right to abortion, and referred the matter to the representatives of the people in the Stormont Assembly. 

By stark contrast, the UK Government has imposed a decision that directly violates the democracy and devolution, and commits itself to the killing of babies not just in England, Wales, and Scotland, but Ireland too. This is shameful, and we call on the Government to reverse this decision, and stand instead for the democratic rights of the Northern Irish people, and respect the rights of babies in the womb included in Northern Irish law.