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UN accuses UK of 'violence against women'

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The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has drawn up a report in which it accuses the UK of ‘violence against women’ because of Northern Ireland’s pro-life laws. 

Northern Ireland’s pro-life abortion laws

Northern Ireland remains the last nation in the United Kingdom that protects the lives of both mother and pre-born child. The Abortion Act (1967) does not extend in its powers to Northern Ireland and abortion is considered a part of the devolved powers that rest with the Northern Ireland Assembly as opposed to the UK Parliament. As such Northern Ireland’s abortion law is not a matter than can changed by any act within the Houses of Parliament.

While Northern Ireland allows for intervention in extreme circumstances where a mother’s life is threatened that may sadly end the pre-born child’s life, giving or receiving an abortion are both criminal acts. The pre-born child’s life is protected under guidelines laid out in sections 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 and sections 25 and 26 of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945.

CEDAW refers to pro-life laws as ‘unjustifiable State-sanctioned violence’

Speaking of ‘grave and systematic violations of rights’, that could be considered ‘torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’, the UN CEDAW’s report condemned what it referred to as Northern Ireland’s ‘current restrictive legal regime on abortion’. Alleging that Northern Ireland’s laws amount to ‘discrimination against women’ and ‘unjustifiable State-sanctioned violence’, the CEDAW has called for Northern Ireland to drop its current pro-life laws and legalise abortion.

UN action shows ‘contempt for democracy and devolution’

In the light of such threats Both Lives Matter, a Northern Ireland pro-life group, have campaigned for Northern Ireland to maintain its current legislation. In 2017 the group ran a billboard campaign drawing attention to the fact that 100,000 people are alive today in Northern Ireland as a direct result of the nation’s laws.Though abortion-approving people challenged the ad, the Advertising Standards Agency approved it as being based in fact. The campaign recently won a UK-wide PR award for their campaign.

The UN aggression towards Northern Ireland over its abortion laws is not unilateral. A recent contingent of pro-abortion Labour MPs recently visited Stormont in an attempt to lobby Assembly Members for law changes. Responding to this attempt, Both Lives Matter CEO, Dawn McAvoy said

“We know the law and policy in place in Northern Ireland saves lives, with robust and tested research indicating an estimated 100,000 people are alive today in our society who would not be if we adopted the 1967 Act. The lobbying effort on the part of this delegation of Labour MPs shows a contempt for democracy and devolution, and an arrogance that they know better than local people.”

The same contempt for democracy and devolution is being exhibited by the UN CEDAW in its strongly worded report on Northern Ireland’s laws. Roger Kiska of the Christian Legal Centre has responded to the report saying:

“As a matter of scientific and biological fact, human life begins at conception. No right to abortion exists in international law. Treaty monitoring bodies, such as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, go beyond their authority and mandate in making declarations like those directed towards Northern Ireland. By inferring such obligations, the Committee is aggressively incurring on national sovereignty and unilaterally creating obligations which have been explicitly rejected by member states during the treaty drafting process. It is a sad day when self-important civil servants try to undermine the laws of a sovereign nation with the sole aim of advancing the culture of death.”

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