Thank you for contacting me about recent Parliamentary votes regarding abortion in Northern Ireland.
I voted against the Abortion (Northern Ireland) No 2 Regulations 2020 on 17th June.
Parliament was told that these Regulations have to be enacted because of CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) and because abortion is “a human right.” Both of these statements are wrong.
In fact, the CEDAW Convention makes no mention of abortion.
Moreover, in the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights there is no mention of a human right to abortion. Quite the reverse: the UDHR insists that everyone has the right to life.
Worse still, these Regulations do not expressly condemn disability-discriminatory and sex-selective abortions.
In a clear breach of the principles underpinning devolution, the Regulations ignore the overwhelming and united views of Northern Ireland’s majority as manifested in polls and the vote of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
These Regulations also fail the good governance test.
The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee said the time provided for consultation – which generated 21,000 responses, with 79% opposed – was “too short for so sensitive a topic” concluding that Parliament was denied “an opportunity for scrutiny before the instrument came into effect.”
Ignoring the House of Lords’ own Scrutiny Committee, the devolved Assembly and the considered views of disability groups, charities and the Attorney General of Northern Ireland will simply bring Parliament into disrepute and are a major set-back for devolution, good governance, due process and just laws.
In summary, the abortion regime imposed on Northern Ireland permits the unrestricted killing of unborn babies until the 14th week of pregnancy and until birth if the child is suspected of having a foetal anomaly. The regime also has the potential to criminalise peaceful pro-life vigils in Northern Ireland and provides little protection for healthcare workers who resist involvement in abortion procedures.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP