This week there were two attempts at Westminster to change the law on abortion in Northern Ireland. These came in the form of a ten minute rule bill from Diana Johnston MP on Tuesday and an amendment to the Northern Ireland Bill which was given accelerated passage through the house on Wednesday.
Firstly it is important to note that neither vote has brought about any change in the law.
The Diana Johnson Ten Minute Rule Bill attempts to decriminalise abortion. It passed by 208 to 123 at it’s first stage on Tuesday. It is unlikely to become law because of the time it might take to pass before Parliament falls, but it has now progressed to a second reading.
The Creasy/McGinn amendment to the Northern Ireland Bill on Wednesday doesn’t change the law either. It means that the Secretary of State for NI is required to provide guidance to civil servants, in considering the human rights obligations of their Departments and she is required to regularly update the House on any progress.
Secondly however, both votes have served as a serious warning. There is a collection of pro-abortion groups operating at Westminster. This week they have revealed their hand – that they are committed to achieving an extreme abortion agenda and will use every means at their disposal to progress that aim.
We don’t say this lightly – The decriminalisation bill would remove all existing criminal deterrents around abortion to the point where a women could abort her child at birth, conceal and dispose of the body without any penalty. The first draft of the Creasey/McGinn Amendment also sought to remove all criminal aspects of the law on abortion and what passed was considerably watered down.
Finally – It is evident that we need to do a much better job in communicating to the public the dangers of decriminalisation. The decriminalisation of abortion would remove from law, all legal protection and any legal status from every unborn child. We believe it would also leave women with less protection from unsafe, unregulated and unscrupulous abortion providers.
Every woman and unborn child, wanted and unwanted deserves better than that.