13/12/2019

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.
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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).



(JG/CM)

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