Politicians Unite To Oppose Abortion Reform

A group of cross-party politicians have united to demand that the Government steps back from "ill conceived" proposals for abortion reform.

A letter co-signed by ten politicians and the former Police Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O'Loan said the changes to abortion provisions exceed what was required by Parliament.

Abortion was decriminalised in Northern Ireland in the absence of a Stormont Executive in October following a Westminster vote in July.

A consultation into what termination services will look like was later published, with submissions welcomed until 16 December.

First published in the Belfast Telegraph on Thursday 12 December, the letter accuses the Westminster Government of acting with contempt when legislating for reform.

Among those who added their name to the document were some members of the DUP, UUP and SDLP.
News Image
The letter reads: "In July, despite the fact that abortion is a devolved matter, and that the Westminster Parliament knew that the democratically elected Northern Ireland Assembly had voted as recently as 2016 by a simple cross-community majority not to change its abortion law in any way, a coalition of English, Welsh and Scottish MPs saw fit to impose abortion law change on us, against the expressed vote of every single Member of Parliament from Northern Ireland who takes their seat in Westminster voting against.

"In the context of the huge sensitivity surrounding this issue, and the fact that the alleged human rights justifications put forward to demand the change have been shown by Prof Mark Hill QC not to be requirements of human rights law, it is incomprehensible that the Government – knowing that abortion is still a devolved matter – has published consultation proposals to introduce changes which go far beyond what has actually been required by Parliament.

"If the Government wants to maintain any commitment to devolution – something it declared repeatedly prior to the vote in July – it should not further undermine devolution."

The following politicians added their signatures: Robbie Butler MLA (UUP) Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP (DUP), Tom Elliott (UUP), Paul Givan MLA (DUP), Carla Lockhart MP (DUP), Cllr Roisin Lynch (SDLP), Baroness Nuala O'Loan, Cllr Anne McCloskey (Aontu), Cllr Michael Savage (SDLP), Robin Swann MLA (UUP), Patsy McGlone MLA (SDLP).


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

24 January 2020
P7 Pupils To Receive Entrance Test Results
The Education Minister has sent his best wishes to primary school pupils awaiting entrance test results this weekend. Official marks for CEA's AQE and the GL PPTC Assessment will be published on Saturday morning, 25 January, arriving at children's homes that morning.
27 January 2020
East Belfast Shooting Condemned
A shooting in the Short Strand area of east Belfast has been condemned as a "despicable" act. Police said a man walking in the area was shot at around 7.45pm on Saturday 25 January. His injuries are not believed to be life threatening. The incident in a busy built up area sparked outrage in the local community.
27 January 2020
SDLP Stalwart Seamus Mallon Laid To Rest
Politicians past and present gathered in Co Armagh today as former deputy first minister Seamus Mallon was laid to rest. A key architect of the Northern Ireland peace process, Mr Mallon died on Friday, aged 83.
13 January 2020
Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal In NI
Same-sex couples can now register to marry for the first time in Northern Ireland's history. From today, Monday 13 January, couples are able to give notice of their intent to form a civil same-sex marriage to the General Register Office for Northern Ireland.
14 January 2020
UUP: Flybe 'Crucial' To NI Activity
Flybe is crucially important to the connectivity of Northern Ireland, Ulster Unionist Leader Steve Aiken has warned. The UK Government is under pressure to save the commercial airline amid fears of the company's collapse due to rising losses. Flybe operates 14 routes from Belfast City Airport, more than is offered by any other airline.