In response to the article featured on Friday 23 June we have five brief points to make;
- The definition of progress and equality for women in Northern Ireland presented by Ms Creasy is to have the same access to abortion as women in the rest of the UK. We reject this definition. Progress and equality should never be framed as dependent upon a “right” to end the lives of our unborn children. Instead, because Both Lives Matter, we see real progress being when we, as women, are enabled in our pregnancy and motherhood,
- Women (as well as men) in NI have continually voted to maintain the law here which recognises and protects the lives of both women and unborn children, because we know that two lives are in existence in every pregnancy and believe that Both Lives Matter.
- Women and men have voted for individuals and political parties who cross the unionist, nationalist and republican divides precisely because they are “pro-life”. It is not only the DUP who have a “pro-life” perspective.
- Ms Creasy quoted Justice Kerr, in the Supreme Court decision last week, when he compared a woman from Northern Ireland being entitled to an appendectomy in the UK to that same woman not being entitled to receive an abortion there. It is inaccurate and deeply offensive to compare the non-contentious issue of the removal of an appendix with the ending of a human life.
- Finally, we and others like us, defend the law on abortion in NI because law shapes culture. Abortion rates in NI are seven times lower than in England & Wales. In January, Both Lives Matter released a report which showed that because Northern Ireland did not enact the 1967 Abortion Act we can estimate that tens of thousands of lives have been saved. It is for Northern Ireland to make decisions on the law on abortion under devolution.
Rather than repeat the tired old rhetoric that is now fifty years old, which is that women’s rights equal abortion rights, we would invite Ms Creasy and others to look at Northern Ireland with a fresh perspective and join us in saying, because Both Lives Matter we can offer better to women, their families and society than abortion.
Both Lives Matter Campaign
The Guardian published a section of our letter which you can read here