Westminster imposes abortion on Northern Ireland

19 June 2020

This week, MPs voted to pass extreme abortion regulations in Northern Ireland, despite the Northern Irish Assembly rejecting the changes to the law earlier this month.

After an overwhelming vote in favour of the new laws in the House of Lords on Monday, MPs approved the new legislation by 253 to 136.

New regulations imposed on Northern Ireland

The laws were initially drafted in July 2019 before Stormont was restored and came into effect on 31 March 2020. However, the new regulations needed to be signed off by Parliament.

Earlier in June, the Northern Irish Assembly passed a motion, brought forward by the DUP, rejecting the changes to the law. Across the two votes held, 75 of the 90 MLAs voted against the provisions in the regulations allowing abortion for non-fatal disabilities.

Although the vote had no effect on the laws, the DUP believed it would send a message to Westminster that the new regulations are not supported by the people of Northern Ireland.

Extreme new regulations

The new laws now legalise abortion in all circumstances in Northern Ireland for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. If the pregnancy poses a risk to the woman’s mental or physical health, abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks.

Furthermore, abortion is allowed any time up to birth if the baby has been diagnosed with a fatal fetal abnormality, or where the child is likely to suffer severe mental or physical impairment. Disabilities such as Down’s syndrome are included in these ‘abnormalities’.

The new laws could also lead to possible job losses and disciplinary action against any medical staff who refuse to carry out an abortion.

DUP MP Carla Lockhart commented: “The will of the people of Northern Ireland has been ignored. The will of the Northern Ireland Assembly has been ignored.

“The devolution settlement cast aside to press ahead with this life-ending agenda. This is undoubtedly one of the darkest days in Northern Ireland’s history. However, we are not without hope.

“It is now up to the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive to change these regulations and bring them into line with public thinking on abortion here. It will now be for MLAs to act without delay to protect the pre-born child.”

Repeal the new laws

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) in Northern Ireland is calling for the new laws to be repealed. The campaign group has set up a petition calling on MPs to “restore legal protection to unborn children by the repeal of Westminster’s abortion legislation.” You can sign it here.

  • Share

Related articles

All content has been loaded.

Take action

Join our email list to receive the latest updates for prayer and action.

Find out more about the legal support we're giving Christians.

Help us put the hope of Jesus at the heart of society.