Poll shows majority of Sinn Fein and DUP voters reject Conservative Government’s proposed abortion framework for Northern Ireland

A new poll organised by the University of Liverpool and Britain’s Economic and Social Research Council has shown that 58% of Sinn Fein voters and 54% of DUP voters  want their country’s new abortion framework to only allow abortions when the mother’s life is at risk. This is a clear rejection of the extreme proposed abortion framework that the UK Government wants to impose on the people of Northern Ireland.

The polling demonstrates that the Conservative Government has no mandate from the people of Northern Ireland to go further than legally required when introducing Northern Ireland’s abortion framework.

The poll of 2,000 people showed that:

  • 58% of Sinn Fein voters supported abortion being available only where the mother’s life is in danger.
  • 54% of DUP voters supported abortion being available only where the mother’s life is in danger.
  • Only 5% of all voters support introducing abortion through to 24-weeks – which is in-line with what the Conservative Government has proposed introducing to Northern Ireland.

The current Conservative Government are legally required, by the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019, to introduce a limited abortion framework in the province.

The Government has launched a consultation on a proposed abortion framework for Northern Ireland which goes far beyond the limited changes strictly necessary for the Government to comply with the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019.

The proposed framework drops many of the current legal safeguards provided by the Abortion Act in England and Wales. The proposals open up abortion provision to any healthcare professional, which could include pharmacists, nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants, art therapists and dieticians. It also drops the requirement that two doctors sign off on an abortion.

The proposal includes virtually no legal limit on the locations on where abortions can take place, potentially allowing for the home use of both abortion pills along with abortion provision in pharmacies, GPs surgeries, school nurse clinics, mobile abortion clinics and ‘telemed’ abortions.

In practice, abortion on demand would be available to either 22 or 24 weeks under mental health grounds. Abortion without certification would be available to either 12 or 14 weeks. This would allow sex-selective abortions to be available on-demand through this period with no specific provision banning sex-selective abortion through 22/24 weeks. 

The proposal would also see abortion for disabilities, including cleft lip, club foot and Down’s syndrome introduced to Northern Ireland, and possibly available right through to birth.

In England and Wales – where abortion is available up until birth if a baby has a disability – people with disabilities are unjustly and disproportionately targeted by abortion legislation.The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

Northern Ireland has a very different approach. Disability-selective abortion for Down’s syndrome is not permitted and there is a culture of welcoming and supporting people with this disability rather than screening them out.

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 the same year, only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales.

This very large discriminatory change was highlighted in a speech by disabled peer Lord Shinkwin in the House of Lords when he was speaking against the proposed changes.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“This polling shows a clear rejection from the people of Northern Ireland for the UK Government’s plans to impose an extreme abortion framework on Northern Ireland.

“Only last month, Sinn Fein and the DUP put aside their differences which allowed the Northern Irish Executive to be restored. This was celebrated across all communities in Northern Ireland, and by the UK Government, as an opportunity for the people of Northern Ireland to get their voice back. 

“One issue which unites the majority of both Sinn Fein and DUP voters is the rejection of the UK Government’s proposed extreme abortion framework. If the devolution settlement of Stormont is to be respected, the cross-community view against this extreme abortion framework must be respected.

“If the UK Government pushes ahead with their extreme abortion framework proposals, they would be undermining the devolution settlement at a time when it is already fragile. 

With Stormont restored, it is vital that the people of Northern Ireland have a say on their country’s new abortion framework through their elected representatives in the Northern Irish Assembly. 

The law sadly requires the UK Government to introduce a new abortion framework in very limited circumstances. Going further than what they are legally bound to do demonstrates a will from the UK Government to impose their abortion-on-demand ideology on Northern Ireland, which would be surprising considering the Conservative Party claims abortion is a matter of conscience. 

To stand up for the devolution settlement; to show that they are listening to the voters of Northern Ireland; to be consistent with their party’s own position; and ultimately to protect the unborn child, I urge the Conservative Government to drop their proposed extreme abortion framework for Northern Ireland, and only implement what that they are legally bound to do.” 

Only 8 abortions in NI in 2018/19, numbers set to skyrocket if Cons Govt chooses to introduce extreme abortion framework on March 31 2020

Figures released today by the Northern Ireland Department of Health show that there were eight abortions in Health and Social Care Trust hospitals in Northern Ireland from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, four less than in 2017/18.

This could be the last year that so few abortions take place in Northern Ireland. Although some women do travel to England and Wales for abortions from Northern Ireland when these abortions are taken into account, the abortion rate among Northern Ireland residents is far below that of England and Wales, and one of the lowest in the world.

This is reflected in a robust statistical analysis, verified by the Advertising Standards Authority, which shows 100,000 people in Northern Ireland are alive today because Northern Ireland did not accept the same abortion law that was introduced throughout the rest of the United Kingdom in 1967. 

The current Conservative Government are legally required, by the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019, to introduce a limited abortion framework in the province.

The Government has launched a consultation on a proposed abortion framework for Northern Ireland which goes far beyond what the Government is required to do by the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019. 

The proposed framework drops many of the current legal safeguards provided by the Abortion Act in England and Wales. The proposals open up abortion provision to any healthcare professional, which could include pharmacists, nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants, art therapists and dieticians. It also drops the requirement that two doctors sign off on an abortion.

The proposal includes virtually no legal limit on the locations on where abortions can take place, potentially allowing for the home use of both abortion pills along with abortion provision in pharmacies, GPs surgeries, school nurse clinics, mobile abortion clinics and ‘telemed’ abortions.

In practice, abortion on demand would be available to either 22 or 24 weeks under mental health grounds. Abortion without certification would be available to either 12 or 14 weeks. This would allow sex-selective abortions to be available on-demand through this period with no specific provision banning sex-selective abortion through 22/24 weeks. 

The proposal would also see abortion for disabilities, including cleft lip, club foot and Down’s syndrome introduced to Northern Ireland, and possibly available right through to birth.

In England and Wales – where abortion is available up until birth if a baby has a disability – people with disabilities are unjustly and disproportionately targeted by abortion legislation.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

Northern Ireland has a very different approach. Disability-selective abortion for Down’s syndrome is not permitted and there is a culture of welcoming and supporting people with this disability rather than screening them out.

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 the same year, only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales.

This very large discriminatory change was highlighted in a speech by disabled peer Lord Shinkwin in the House of Lords when he was speaking against the proposed changes.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“Sadly, this could be the last year that so few abortions take place in Northern Ireland. Although some women do travel to England and Wales for abortions from Northern Ireland, when these are taken into account, the abortion rate among Northern Ireland residents is far below that of England and Wales, and one of the lowest in the world.

This is reflected in a robust statistical analysis, verified by the Advertising Standards Authority which shows 100,000 people in Northern Ireland are alive today because Northern Ireland did not accept the same abortion law that was introduced into Britain in 1967. 

Now that the Northern Ireland Assembly has been restored, it is vital that devolution is respected and the decision around this important issue are made by the elected representatives of the Northern Irish people.

The Government is required by Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 to introduce a limited abortion framework to Northern Ireland on March 31st. For the Conservative Government to go beyond what is strictly necessary to comply with the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act 2019, after it has repeatedly stated that it wishes to respect the devolution settlement and the people of Northern Ireland, is unacceptable and unnecessary. 

This proposed abortion framework is a blatant attempt by the Government to further undermine the will of the people of Northern Ireland. It adds insult to injury after Westminster voted to impose new abortion laws on Northern Ireland and will likely lead to an even larger increase in the number of lives lost to abortion.”

1300% increase in taxpayer funding for abortion giant Marie Stopes since Conservatives took power in 2010

Since the Conservatives took power in 2010, the Department for International Development (DfID) has increased its contributions to the abortion giant Marie Stopes International (MSI) by over 1300% from £3,231,000 in 2006 to £48,173,000 in 2018.

A very large portion of the abortion giant’s spending has been focussed on targeting their ‘services’ to countries in Africa.

Financial statements for the company found in Companies House reveal that since 2010 DfID has given almost £300 million worth of taxpayers’ money to MSI, with over three-quarters of that total given between 2014 and 2018. This enormous increase has made DfID the single biggest donor to Marie Stopes International.

DfID contributions to MSI account for over 16% of their entire £296,849,000 income in 2018. This represents a dramatic increase from 2010 where DfID provided only 2.49% of MSI’s income for that year.

The total financial contributions from DfID do not include any money the British Government provides for Marie Stopes’ abortion provision in the UK.

At the height of its contributions, the United States donated almost £24 million in 2016 to MSI, which is just over half the total contributions of the British Government for the same year.

This huge increase in DfID contributions comes at the same time as MSI performed almost 5 million abortions globally and rewarded its chief executive Simon Cooke a £217,250 bonus for doing so.

Mr Cooke’s impressive salary and bonus come off the back of a series of scandals in the past few years where inspectors found “dead foetuses lying in an open bin”; evidence of high-pressure sales tactics to get women to have abortions; and cases of doctors pre-signing consent forms.

In September, a Boris Johnson led Government provided an additional £600 million of taxpayer money for overseas “family planning”, which will include funding abortions

The Government’s announcement was made following a recent Independent Commission for Aid Impact report which condemned DFID for favouring abortion funding at the expense of strengthening the delivery of quality maternal care programmes.

The pledge is the UK Government’s largest ever stand-alone spend of taxpayer money in this area and comes on top of the £1.1 billion already pledged over a 5 year period beginning in 2017.

Polling from Savant ComRes shows that 65% of the British population are opposed to taxpayer money being used to fund abortions overseas.

The release of the figures has come as Right To Life UK has launched a major general election campaign – the Vote For Both Lives campaign – a large-scale initiative that they will run throughout the country in the lead up to election day on 12th December. 

MP candidates are being asked to sign the Both Lives Pledge, which outlines three policy changes that are designed to increase protection for babies in the womb and end pregnancy discrimination for women. Independent polling by Savanta ComRes shows that all three policy changes are strongly supported by the public. 

Constituents are being encouraged to visit www.righttolife.org.uk/bothlives where it takes 30 seconds to ask their candidates to sign the Both Lives Pledge.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“The majority of the great increase in the contributions of the Department for International Development to this global abortion provider has occurred under the auspices of a Conservative Government.

Polling has shown that 65% of the British population are opposed to taxpayer money being used to fund abortions overseas, yet every year since 2010 the British Government has given more and more money to MSI for this purpose.

“There is no internationally recognised right to abortion, and the British Government, along with the UN, should not be acting as if there is. Many countries do not share the British Government’s views on abortion. They do not recognise abortion as a right to be promoted.

“This is nothing short of neo-colonialism, where the British Government is using its resources to fund abortions in foreign nations.”

Two-thirds Tory Councillors oppose Gov move to force abortion on Norther Ireland

New polling has revealed that two-thirds of Conservative councillors (67%) support abortion remaining a devolved matter for Northern Ireland, and believe that it should be up to politicians in Northern Ireland to decide whether to change the law on this issue. 

The ComRes poll is thought to be broadly representative of voting sentiment among grassroots Conservatives and indicates that there is very little support from Conservative party members to impose abortion on Northern Ireland from Westminster. 

The poll also showed the highest support for respecting devolution on this issue from the devolved regions (Wales and Scotland), with 86% supporting abortion being a devolved matter for politicians in Northern Ireland to decide.

The poll comes as Theresa May’s Government faces a major backlash from Northern Ireland against the Government’s plan to redraft the abortion clause in the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill to introduce an extreme change to abortion law, likely ushering into Northern Ireland the most extreme abortion law in Europe. 

This move appears to signal an end to the Conservative Party’s long-standing neutral policy in regard to abortion. It also appears to be a departure from the Government’s position on respecting devolution.

The polling also reflects sentiment among the public in Northern Ireland with previous polling showing that a strong majority of women (66%) reject interference from Westminster on this sensitive issue, 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.

Clare McCarthy from Right To Life said:

“The new polling clearly shows that the Government scrapping their long-held position of neutrality on abortion and drafting secondary legislation to impose abortion on Northern Ireland will be very unpopular among the Conservative Party membership. This shows that there is very strong support for respecting devolution and that any changes in Northern Ireland’s abortion laws should be made in Northern Ireland, not imposed by Westminster. 

“Moreover, this polling echoes previous polling of Northern Irish people, with two-thirds of women rejecting interference from Westminster, believing that this is a decision for Northern Ireland.

“It is a reminder to the Government in Westminster that abortion remains a devolved issue in Northern Ireland. They have no mandate from the people of Northern Ireland to make any changes to Northern Ireland’s laws on abortion and all laws and policy regarding that issue should be decided by the people of Northern Ireland through their elected representatives.”

(Image credit: AdobeStock: Marco Govel)