Press release – LibDem MP candidate who opposed sex-selective abortion deselected for wrong ‘values’

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LibDem MP candidate who opposed sex-selective abortion deselected for wrong ‘values’

Right To Life UK are calling on the Liberal Democrats to declare whether there is a place for candidates who oppose sex-selective abortion in their party, following former Stoke-on-Trent South MP, Rob Fello, being deselected as a candidate for having the wrong ‘values’. 

During his 12-years as MP, Rob Flello voted on three bills or amendments relating to abortion. Polling shows his positions on each of these issues are supported by the vast majority of women.

  • September 2011 – Supported a bill to give woman considering abortion a legal right to independent counselling from a source that has no financial interest in her decision.
  • February 2015 – Supported an amendment to ban sex-selective abortion.
  • March 2017 – Opposed a bill to introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth to the UK.
    • Polling shows only 1% support of the population support introducing abortion up to birth.

Rob Flello also opposed the introduction of assisted suicide to the UK. In 2015, 330 MPs joined Rob Flello in opposing a Bill to introduce assisted suicide, many of whom were Liberal Democrat MPs. Only 118 MPs supported that Bill which was voted down at second reading.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“We are now calling on the Liberal Democrats to declare whether there is a place for candidates who oppose sex-selective abortion and abortion up to birth in their party? How many LibDem MPs who voted with Rob Flello to oppose abortion up to birth and ban sex-selective abortion will be deselected for their wrong ‘values? These are not fringe viewpoints. These are views that polling shows the vast majority of the public and the vast majority of Liberal Democrat voters hold. 

ENDS

ComRes interviewed 2,008 British adults online between 12th and 14th May 2017. Data was weighted to be representative of all GB adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are here: https://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Where-Do-They-Stand-Abortion-Survey-Data-Tables.pdf

Press release – Government announces proposed extreme abortion framework for NI, goes far beyond law in Eng/Wales

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Government announces proposed extreme abortion framework for Northern Ireland, goes far beyond law in England and Wales

The Government has today launched a consultation on a proposed abortion framework for Northern Ireland which goes far beyond the existing law in England and Wales, and that of the Republic of Ireland.

The proposals go far beyond what the Government was required to do by the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019. The proposal seeks to introduce an abortion framework without many of the current legal safeguards provided by the Abortion Act in England and Wales. 

The proposed framework which is being consulted on includes the following:

  • De facto abortion on demand through to either 22 or 24 weeks (Section 2.2 – page 15)
    • Abortion would be available ‘provided grounds similar to those in England and Wales are met in relation to mental wellbeing grounds’.
    • In England and Wales, this wording has in practice allowed for de facto abortion on demand.
  • Any “registered healthcare professional” would be able to provide terminations (Section 2.5 – page 20)
    • In England and Wales, abortions can only be performed by a registered medical practitioner (doctor) and the Abortion Act requires the approval of two doctors before an abortion can be performed.
    • Under the proposal being consulted on, there is no requirement that a doctor performs the abortion and no requirement for the approval of two doctors before an abortion can be performed.
    • ‘Any other registered healthcare professional’ could include healthcare assistants, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, health visitors, dieticians, art therapists and hearing aid dispensers.
  • No legal restrictions on locations where abortions can take place (Section 2.6 – page 21)
    • In England and Wales, the Abortion Act (1967) currently restricts abortion to hospitals or places approved by the Secretary of State. This means that abortions are available in a limited number of approved locations.
    • Under the proposal being consulted on, abortion locations would not be limited in law to hospitals or places approved by the Secretary of State and it would be left to Northern Ireland Commissioners to decide where abortions could take place.
    • This could open up abortion locations to the home use of both abortion pills, pharmacies, GPs surgeries, school nurse clinics, mobile abortion clinics and ‘telemed’ abortions.
  • Abortion for disabilities for any reason up to birth, possibly including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot (Section 2.3 – page 17)
    • Abortion for disabilities available through to birth when “The fetus if born would suffer a severe impairment, including a mental or physical disability which is likely to significantly limit either the length or quality of the child’s life” 
    • In England and Wales, wording that has appeared similarly restrictive  (‘that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped’) has in practice allowed for abortion for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.  
  • Sex-selective abortion on demand through to 12 or 14 weeks (Section 2.2 – page 13)
    • Abortion on demand, without certification, through to 12 or 14 weeks would allow for sex-selective abortion to be available on-demand. 
    • There is also no specific provision banning sex-selective abortion through 22 or 24 weeks.
  • Conscientious objection protections are provided but would operate in a very different environment (Section 2.8 – page 26)
    • The proposal appears to seek to mirror legislation in England and Wales which does not provide protection for healthcare professionals undertaking ancillary, administrative and managerial tasks involved with an abortion procedure.
    • The proposed framework allows for a far wider group of health professionals beyond doctors to be involved with providing terminations in a far wider number of locations. This could mean that a far wider group of health professionals could be affected by the legislation and possibly involved in ancillary, administrative and managerial tasks where they are not provided protection.

The introduction of the new framework is proposed to take place on March 31st 2020. This will follow the current ‘limbo period’ in Northern Ireland, following the change in the law on October 22, where there is now no law protecting the unborn child through to 28-weeks. During this ‘limbo period’, there is only limited guidance from the Government, recommending how abortion access should be provided during this period.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“The Government’s proposed abortion framework goes far beyond what the Government was 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.

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. 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 would likely lead to an even larger increase in the number of lives lost to abortion.”

ENDS

  • For additional quotes and media interviews contact 07907 272151 or email press@righttolife.org.uk 
  • For further information on Right To Life UK visit www.righttolife.org.uk
  • The full consultation document is available here.
  • The full report on the 100,000 lives figure quoted above is available here: https://bothlivesmatter.org/statistics   
  • Polling from ComRes shows that 66% of women and 70% of 18-34-year-olds in Northern Ireland rejected abortion law imposed on Northern Ireland from Westminster. The strongest support among age groups surveyed came from 18-34-year-olds, with 70% agreeing that they did not want abortion law imposed on Northern Ireland.
  • 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. Full data tables are available here: https://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/2018-Both-Lives-Matter.pdf

BBC moves to calling premature babies foetuses

A picture of the postcard, featuring baby Paul

The BBC’s political editor for Northern Ireland has referred to the picture of a premature baby on a pro-life postcard as a foetus.

The insensitive comments were made live on BBC Newsline, by Mark Davenport, just hours before a law imposing Europe’s most extreme abortion legislation on the province came into force

He said, “when I came down from the Stormont Assembly I passed some security staff who were still sorting through boxes and boxes of postcards with pictures of a 27-week old foetus on them, and that came from pro-life campaigners who were determined that the law should not be changed.”

The postcards in question were printed by pro-life campaign group Both Lives Matter and feature a picture of a baby boy, called Paul, from Belfast born at 27 weeks and two days. 

They urged Members of Northern Ireland’s Legislative Assembly to reconvene Stormont by October 21, so that the extreme abortion regime, that came into force today, could be halted. 

Paul is now 24 years old but may not have survived if he was born today. As of Tuesday, abortion is now available for any reason, up to 28 weeks, legalising sex-selective and disability-selective abortion including abortion for Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

In the build-up to a debate on the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, the BBC drew attention to an amendment, that eventually brought Europe’s most extreme abortion regime to Ireland, calling it an exciting titbit

For a number of years the BBC’s ‘News Style Guide’ has required their journalists to ‘avoid pro-abortion, and use pro-choice instead’. When it comes to describing the pro-life position they advise journalists to ‘use anti-abortion rather than pro-life’.

The BBC has also been caught suppressing polling they commissioned for a documentary, called Abortion on Trial, which showed that there was no widespread support for changing the existing law.

Instead, in the documentary that aired, the BBC cherry-picked minority results from polling that supported what appeared to be a clear bias in the documentary towards removing the current legal restrictions and safeguards around abortion. 

The same documentary was also criticised for dropping a pregnant woman from their panel who had chosen not to abort her daughter who had Down’s syndrome.

Spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: 

“This insensitive comment from the BBC’s political editor for Northern Ireland is just the latest in a long list of actions highlighting their institutional bias against the pro-life movement, and for the abortion lobby.”

Northern Irish politicians paid millions to do nothing whilst Westminster imposes Europe’s most extreme abortion law upon Northern Ireland

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith MP, this morning confirmed that Northern Irish MLAs have received a combined salary of £14.9m since the assembly collapsed

This means that MLAs in Sinn Féin, Alliance, and SDLP – the parties which made it impossible to stop Westminster imposing Europe’s most extreme abortion laws on Northern Ireland – still continue to receive their £35,888 annual salary. This was after it was cut from £49,000 per annum by the previous Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokensire MP.

Many concerns have been raised about the new abortion laws in Northern Ireland. Baroness O’Loan, whilst speaking in the House of Lords, quoted David Lock QC to say that a consequence of decriminalisation “may be the possible return of unregulated backstreet abortion”

Lord MacKay, the former Lord Advocate and Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, also stated his opposition to the new abortion laws saying “I cannot think of a greater danger to the women of Northern Ireland than allowing unrestricted abortion again”.

Democratic Unionist Party MP, Jim Shannon, has also made it clear that “the majority of people in my constituency are very clear that they do not want liberalised abortion in Strangford or across Northern Ireland”.

The lack of action taken by Sinn Féin, Alliance, and SDLP MLAs, whilst they still received a paycheque from the taxpayer, meant that Westminster imposed abortion laws on Northern Ireland which the people of Northern Ireland do not want. 

Lady Sylvia Hermon, the Independent Unionist MP – and the only non-DUP representative in the House of Commons – said it was “unsustainable and indefensible that MLAs continue to be paid their full salaries”.

Spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: 

“It is indefensible that MLAs continue to be gratuitously paid for idly sitting back and allowing Westminster to impose Europe’s most extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, particularly those MLAs who claim to be pro-life or against the direct rule of the UK Government.

“It is unacceptable that this vast sum of money will be paid to MLAs who are meant to represent the people of Northern Ireland yet ignored them completely on the issue of abortion, something that the people of Northern Ireland did not want. 

“This happened despite MLAs receiving the highest level of correspondence on a single issue ever, with tens of thousands of constituents asking them to form an executive so that the current safeguards for unborn babies would remain in place. 

“Just last year a ComRes poll revealed that two-thirds of women and 70% of 18-34-year-olds in Northern Ireland did not want abortion laws imposed upon the province by Westminster. 

“We continue to believe that both the lives of pregnant mothers and their unborn babies matter and will continue to be a voice for the voiceless in Northern Ireland and beyond, campaigning for progressive change that protects the right to life.”