Thank you for contacting me about the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021.
I voted against the introduction of the Regulations in the Division vote held on 27th April 2021.
The two key issues here were to do with governance, especially devolution, and the powers contained in the Regulations.
On devolution, Baroness Hoey summed up the problem concisely: Today’s debate is not about abortion: it is about allowing a devolved Government to make their own decision on a devolved matter.
It cannot be right to play fast and loose with the devolution settlement on such an important issue and doing so sets an unfortunate precedent.
Still on governance, those who argue that CEDAW obliges the UK Government to act as it has are simply wrong. In the words of Lord Morrow, the relevant paragraphs of the CEDAW report on the UK 'do not constitute legally binding international obligations', a point conceded by the Government.
On the substance of the Regulations, I cannot support measures that include, among others, abortion for any or no reason up to twelve weeks and which leave open the possibility of termination up to birth if the baby has an abnormality yet the nature and extent of the abnormality - which can be physical or mental - felt to justify such extreme action is left effectively undefined. Similar vagueness bedevils other provisions and creates the conditions for what in some circumstances could amount to abortion on demand.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP