In the run-up to Thursday’s General Election, our friends at CARE have produced this brief guide on the positions of each of the political parties running in Northern Ireland on the issue of abortion. The positions of the parties are taken from the manifestos of political parties and public statements made by elected representatives. We would recommend you ask candidates standing for election in your area where they stand on this issue.
For the Alliance Party, abortion is considered as a matter of conscience. Different candidates are at liberty to adopt different approaches on this issue. Some elected representatives for Alliance support the new abortion legislation brought in at Westminster while others do not. Party Leader Naomi Long MEP has stated she is in favour of the decriminalisation of abortion within set gestational limits.
Aontú states that “protecting the human right to life for everyone is a core value of our party.” Aontú political representatives are in favour of legislation which protects both mothers and unborn children. Party leader Peader Toibin TD has outlined his clear opposition to the new abortion legislation introduced at Westminster.
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
The Democratic Unionist Party in its manifesto sets out that it is committed to “Protect[ing] Mothers and Unborn Life Again” following the passage of the new abortion legislation at Westminster. They outline in their twelve-point plan for Northern Ireland that they are in favour of a number of measures to support mothers facing crisis pregnancies as well as those who are told their child has a life-limiting condition deemed fatal.
Green Party Northern Ireland (GP)
The Green Party in Northern Ireland is a pro-choice political party in favour of the decriminalisation of abortion here. Their party leader, Clare Bailey MLA, has publicly outlined her support for the new abortion legislation passed at Westminster.
Northern Ireland Conservatives
For the Northern Ireland Conservatives, abortion is considered as a matter of conscience. Different candidates are at liberty to adopt different approaches on this issue. However, in a recent press release party spokesperson Gary Hynds did indicate the party believed “that having different laws in different parts of the UK on these fundamental issues [such as abortion] does not make sense.”
People Before Profit (PBP)
People Before Profit is a pro-choice political party in favour of “free, safe, legal and local access to reproductive healthcare.” They argue “A women’s right to choose must be respected.”
Sinn Fein (SF)
Sinn Fein is in favour of the decriminalisation of abortion within a ‘limited gestational period’. The party has stated it is in favour of access to abortion “where a woman’s life, health or mental health is at risk and in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and in the cases of rape or sexual abuse.”
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)
The SDLP describes itself as a pro-life political party. However, in May 2018 the party adopted a position which allowed individual members to vote with their conscience on abortion. Consequently, different candidates are at liberty to adopt different approaches on this issue. Some elected representatives for the SDLP support the new abortion legislation brought in at Westminster while others do not. Party leader Colum Eastwood MLA recently stated on BBC Radio Ulster that he supports allowing abortion on request for any reason up to twelve weeks gestation.
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)
For the UUP, abortion is considered as a matter of conscience. Different candidates are at liberty to adopt different approaches on this issue. Some elected representatives for the UUP support the new abortion legislation brought in at Westminster while others do not. Party Leader Steve Aiken MLA has outlined he believes the current time limit on abortion in Great Britain is “far too late” but he will not support an attempt to repeal the new legislation passed at Westminster.
United Kingdom Independence Party NI (UKIP)
For UKIP NI, information on the party’s position is not publicly available.
 BBC Radio Ulster Talkback Programme 28 November 2019.