MPs from across the House criticise pro-abortion amendments to Northern Ireland Bill

Last night MPs from across the House of Commons spoke out as pro-abortion campaigners remained intent on forcing abortion on Northern Ireland and ignoring devolution as the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill progressed through its second reading in the House of Commons.

Ahead of the important Committee stage in the progress of the Bill where radical abortion amendments are expected to be added today, a number of MPs from across the House expressed their displeasure about the nature of the extremely divisive abortion amendments.

Labour party MP, Kate Hoey, criticised the amendments to the Bill “that are going to divide people very much”. Rather, tackling “historical institutional abuse” is something “which unites all the political parties”, and this would be a much more appropriate concern.

Ian Paisley MP, Sammy Wilson MP and Emma Little Pengelly MP from the DUP all criticised the amendments as a fundamental attack on devolution, with Paisley saying:

“[T]he amendments tabled to the Bill are about usurping the powers placed in Northern Ireland and bringing them back [to Westminster.]”

Equally Conservative MP, Fiona Bruce, criticised the abortion amendments to this Bill as being “out of scope” of the substance of the Bill itself. The Northern Ireland Bill is primarily concerned with extending the period for forming an Executive, from August 2019 to October 2019.

The “narrow scope [of the Bill] should be respected. It is not a Bill that should be used to upset the devolution position,” said Fiona Bruce.

Beyond the procedural impropriety of the Bill, Ian Paisley, drew attention to the fact that there is no human right to abortion in the European Convention on Human Rights, and that the majority of the people of Northern Ireland support abortion law remaining a devolved issue to be decided by the people of Northern Ireland and their representatives.

These are significant contributions ahead of the Committee stage of the Bill where the extreme abortion amendments are likely to be introduced. Evidence from past attempts to change the abortion law in Northern Ireland suggests that pro-abortion MPs will probably seek to remove sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against The Person Act, immediately making abortion legal for any reason throughout the first 28 weeks (about 7 months) of pregnancy.

The abortion amendments are expected to be brought forth today (09/07) as the Bill is fast-tracked through Parliament.

Right To Life has created a function to allow the public to quickly and easily email their MP about these abortion amendments to prevent them coming into affect.

(Image credit: Adobe Stock: Marco Govel)

Abortion amendments brought forward in attempt to hijack Northern Ireland bill

A Government Bill is being hijacked by abortion lobbyists to attempt to introduce extreme abortion legislation to Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, which has been brought forward to delay elections in Stormont while power-sharing talks continue, is likely to have radical abortion amendments added in an effort to undermine devolution and force abortion on Northern Ireland.

Abortion in Northern Ireland is only available in limited circumstances and as such there are around 100,000 people alive today who would otherwise not be, had the Abortion Act 1967 in the rest of Britain, been extended to that region.

Proposed changes to the abortion law in Northern Ireland were debated as recently as 2016 with 59 to 40 voting against any change. Should the abortion amendments to the Northern Ireland Bill be accepted in Westminster, the decisions on abortion laws in Northern Ireland would be taken out of hands of the people of Northern Ireland. 

In England and Wales, two doctors are required to approve a request for an abortion. This is an important safeguard which attempts to ensure that no woman is coerced into having an abortion. If abortion were to be imposed on Northern Ireland via an amendment, there would be no such requirement.

Furthermore, leaving aside the issue of whether or not an abortion amendment goes beyond the scope of the Bill, MPs have argued that such serious social change – as an amendment of this kind would promote – deserves full consideration and appropriate debate.

In 2018, the Republic of Ireland held a referendum on whether or not to change its abortion law, and in England and Wales, debates surrounding the abortion law have run late into the night on more than one occasion. The Bill in Northern Ireland however, is being rushed through all of the Commons stages in just two days allowing no time for substantive debate.

Right To Life UK has created a function to allow the public to quickly and easily email their MP about these abortion amendments to prevent them from coming into effect.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“This is evidently an attempt to subvert the normal democratic processes which have continued to be an obstacle to the abortion lobby.”

“Stormont has consistently rejected abortion and polling has shown that the majority of women in Northern Ireland (66% in general and 70% of 18-34 year olds) do not want abortion law imposed on Northern Ireland from Westminster.

“There are approximately 100,000 people alive today in Northern Ireland because the Abortion Act (1967) does not apply to the region.

“People with disabilities will inevitably lose the most if the abortion lobby are successful in undermining devolution. In 2016, 52 children with Down’s syndrome were born in Northern Ireland and in the same year, one child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales in the same year.”

“It’s really important that as many people as possible contact their MP to urge to speak against any amendment which might force abortion on Northern Ireland.”

New attempt to introduce abortion on demand in Northern Ireland expected Tuesday

Last night (4 July) a group of MPs brought forward a number of amendments to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill which will proceed through all Commons stages early next week.

Some of these amendments appear to be designed to attempt to introduce abortion to Northern Ireland.

There is also the potential that last-minute manuscript amendments will be accepted at Committee Stage on Tuesday, as the Speaker of the House, Bercow made it very clear yesterday that he is likely to accept them.

At this stage, it is possible that some MPs will be seeking to add another amendment. Based on past amendments brought forward on this issue, it is possible that a manuscript amendment could be seeking to remove sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against The Person Act. 

Doing this would immediately make abortion legal for any reason throughout the first 28 weeks (about 7 months) of pregnancy. This would also result in widespread changes to abortion legislation in England and Wales, removing almost all legal safeguards around abortion in these jurisdictions.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since January 2017 due to a political disagreement resulting in deadlock. In the absence of a devolved parliament in Northern Ireland, although wholly inappropriate and constitutionally disrespectful, this legislation could potentially be imposed on Northern Ireland by parliament in Westminster

In Britain, abortion is available on demand up until 24 weeks gestation and, Ireland permits abortion in line with the EU median average of 12 weeks. If this amendment were to be successful, Northern Ireland would have one of the most extreme abortions laws in all of Europe, and would be significantly out of step with the existing legislation in Britain and the Republic of Ireland. 

Prospective Prime Ministers, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, have been clear that they support abortion remaining a devolved issue in Northern Ireland and do not wish for Westminster to impose abortion on the region as it should be up to the Northern Irish people to decide.

Furthermore, it has been suggested that it would not be constitutionally appropriate to bring forward such an amendment to a Bill which has nothing to do with abortion, especially given the extremely short time frame that will be available for substantive debate and discussion. It will not be possible to engage in a public consultation either so the people of Northern Ireland will not have any opportunity to voice opposition to the Bill.

ComRes polling has shown that 66% of women and 70% of 18-34 year-olds in Northern Ireland do not want abortion law imposed on Northern Ireland from Westminster.

Right To Life UK have set up an ‘Email your MP’ function on its website to give constituents the opportunity to ask their MP to reject any amendments which would force abortion on Northern Ireland.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“Westminster must respect the principle and spirit of devolution and ensure that the people of Northern Ireland, through their elected representatives, get to decide the abortion laws that apply to that region.

The amendments to this Bill are out of touch with the will of the Northern Irish people who reject interference from Westminster on their abortion laws and believe that this is a decision to be made in Northern Ireland.”