UK Imposes Abortion on Northern Ireland
Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The United Kingdom’s (UK) Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, directed Northern Ireland’s Department of Health to establish “full abortion services” by March, 31, 2022 and “provide immediate funding support for interim services of early medical abortion.” In a written statement presented to Parliament he reminded MPs that they voted in 2019 that Northern Ireland needed to change its laws protecting unborn children from the violence of abortion and allow abortion on demand for the first 28 weeks of pregnancy in order for the UK to be compliant with recommendations issued by the CEDAW treaty monitoring body in 2018.

Due to unresolved political differences, the devolved government in Northern Ireland, headed by a power-sharing executive composed of representatives from the five political parties, has not been able to come together, including to discuss and determine abortion policy. This failure was cited as the reason for the UK imposing an extreme abortion policy on Northern Ireland. Any abortion proposals developed by the health department will still need to go to the five-party executive.

Pro-life MP Carla Lockhart of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and other advocates for the unborn, believe that abortion is a “devolved matter” that should only be decided by the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont. MP Lockhart stated, "What we have in this statement from the secretary of state is a further example of a government acting with no respect to the local electorate and locally elected politicians.

"The DUP stand ready to find a locally agreed way forward. We urge all parties who sit with us in the Northern Ireland Executive to share this intent."

The Stormont Assembly has previously rejected measures to allow abortion but has unable met in session to discuss and vote on abortion law changes due to the impasse.

Secretary of State Lewis explained his action, “I have a statutory duty to protect the rights of women and girls in Northern Ireland, imposed by section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019. This duty requires me to ensure that the recommendations in paragraphs 85 and 86 of the 2018 Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Report are implemented in full. I therefore have a duty to ‘provide women with access to high-quality abortion and post-abortion care in all public health facilities’. I acknowledge and respect the deeply held views that individuals hold on this issue. However, it is the clear will of Parliament that the rights of women and girls in Northern Ireland are properly upheld.”

Contrary to opinions of pro-abortion MPs in the UK Parliament who initiated the legislation forcing Northern Ireland to change its law on abortion, countries are not obligated to accept the recommendations from CEDAW and other treaty-monitoring bodies which are increasingly filled with pro-abortion activists serving as “experts”.

Response to the directive was immediate. Precious Life urged pro-life supporters to tell their Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs)—“Say to Westminster very clearly that the people of Northern Ireland do not allow - we do not give our consent - to Boris Johnson and his government to kill unborn babies in Northern Ireland.”

Precious Life reports that according to the latest figures from the Department of Health, 1,556 babies have been killed by abortion in Northern Ireland since March 2020.

It charges, “The Westminster Government has complete contempt, not only for the human rights of unborn babies, but also for the principles of democracy and devolution in Northern Ireland.”

The Presbyterian Church (PCI) in Ireland issued a statement of opposition declaring:

"It is deeply regrettable that Mr Lewis did not take time to reflect on how destructive his imposed legislation will be for future generations of unborn children in Northern Ireland.

"It is also astonishing that in today's written statement seeking to further impose his will on the devolved institutions, he describes this as his 'moral obligation.'

"There is nothing moral about this destructive direction, nor indeed the original legislation that he previously inflicted on the people of Northern Ireland."

The Northern Catholic Bishops also opposed the “unjust law” stating:

“Absent from the discussion however are the thousands of unborn children, who have no legal protection and whose humanity is excluded from the political equation. It is for this reason that the argument for the protection of all human life can never be abandoned or referred to human rights experts alone. Westminster has imposed an unjust law. Christians, and all people of good will, can never stand silently by and fail to raise their voices at any attempt to ignore completely the fact that unborn children are human beings worthy of protection.”

The bishops expressed concern that the action was the latest in a line of decisions by the current Westminster Government which threatens the “fragile balance of relationships” at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement.

They encouraged everyone “who believes in the equal right to life and compassionate care for a mother and her unborn child to ask local candidates and political parties to explain their position on these interventions and on this most fundamental of all issues.”