PRESS RELEASE -Both Lives Matter opposes legislative change on abortion from Westminster

Both Lives Matter | Press | PRESS RELEASE -Both Lives Matter opposes legislative change on abortion from Westminster

The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill is listed to be brought to the House of Commons on Monday 8 July 2019. Plans have been publicised to amend the bill on Monday to include changes to the law on abortion in Northern Ireland.

Dawn McAvoy, co-founder of Both Lives Matter comments,

“Abortion is a devolved issue. This move would potentially set a problematic constitutional precedent which could affect parliamentarians and citizens from Wales and Scotland, and Northern Ireland again in future on a whole range of issues. Even if caveats are included in the amendments to give any future Executive a say in the matter within a specific timeframe, the process remains constitutionally unacceptable.”

“As an issue of process, it is inappropriate to attempt to amend a Bill about the formation and function of the Northern Ireland Executive, to include potentially far-reaching changes to the specific and sensitive issue of abortion.”

“This remains a sensitive political moment, talks are ongoing between the Northern Ireland political parties and amending the bill in such a way is not conducive to an agreement being reached. There are several court judgements pending and there has been no public consultation about any proposed change in the law among the people of Northern Ireland. To change the law on abortion in such a potentially dramatic way could result in unwise, unsafe and culturally unsuitable legislation.”

Dawn continues,

“We are deeply frustrated and disappointed that a relatively small number of pro-abortion activists who see unrestricted abortion as progress for women seem to be driving the political agenda at Westminster. This is at odds with what most women want and presents a small and sad vision for women and children. Most people in Northern Ireland do not want Westminster to act to impose potentially far-reaching changes to our abortion legislation[1] and most conservative MPs do not favour undermining devolution in this way[2].”

“Our distinct law, which allows for abortion in a more carefully regulated way, means that over 100,000 people are alive in Northern Ireland today because politicians here did not implement the 1967 Abortion Act[3].”

“We recognise that a vote on any proposed amendments on abortion would be a conscience vote. We are simply asking MPs, whatever their view on abortion, to respect devolution and the parliamentary process on this sensitive moral and political issue.”

“Finally, as always we will continue to believe and profess a better vision for women and their unborn children where both lives are protected and enabled as far as humanly possible.”


[1] A ComRes poll from last year showed that two-thirds of women (and 70% of 18-34 year olds) in Northern Ireland don’t want abortion laws imposed by Westminster


[3]This figure was robustly tested and upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority