July 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — A total of 173 politicians from the United Kingdom and Ireland have signed an open letter calling on the British government to legalize abortion in Northern Ireland.
Following the May 25 referendum by which the Irish people voted overwhelmingly to repeal their constitutional amendment protecting preborn babies, pro-abortion groups such as Amnesty International began ramping up efforts to demand the same for Northern Ireland. The pro-life province maintains that it has the right to set its own abortion laws, but pro-abortion forces want the UK Parliament to impose legalization.
The new letter, published in the Sunday Times, frames it as a matter of “protect(ing) the human rights of women” and enforcing compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It was orchestrated by Labour MP Stella Creasy, the BBC noted. Signatories include Labour MP Harriet Harman, Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, and Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill.
The letter cites judgments from the UK Supreme Court and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) agreeing that the current abortion prohibition presents a serious problem for women’s rights.
“Yet despite these statements, the UK government has refused to act upon both the UN Cedaw ruling and the supreme court, arguing instead that this is a ‘devolved matter’ for the Northern Ireland Assembly alone to address,” the signatories objected. “Without an assembly or executive in place for more than 18 months, this therefore raises the prospect that a victim of rape will be required to take the British government to court herself to vindicate these rights.
“It is our belief that the current situation for women cannot be ignored or allowed to continue,” they declared. “Indeed, the current lack of devolved institutions also presents a lacuna for the protection of human rights across the board.”
Specifically, the letter calls for the repeal of Sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA), the provisions forbidding both attempted self-abortions and physician assistance in abortions.
“This is the first and critical step to ending the treatment of British and Irish women living in Northern Ireland as second-class citizens, who do not enjoy the same access to healthcare as their counterparts do across these islands,” the letter declared.
The letter follows a politically-diverse coalition of female politicians from Northern Ireland who traveled to the Palace of Westminster last week to make their pro-life stance perfectly clear to any who considered imposing abortion on the province.
“It’s vital that MPs hear from women who live and work in Northern Ireland and who represent other women across the Province,” Both Lives Matter co-founder Dawn McAvoy declared. “We represent some of the many Northern Irish women who reject this. We would urge (Westminster) MPs to respect the people of Northern Ireland and our elected representatives. Our current law provides proper protection for both the mother and the unborn baby and we’ve found that many women have no desire for that law to be changed.”