URGENT: Northern Irish pro-life groups are calling on citizens, and Northern Irish around the world, to contact legislators now! Find contact information at the bottom.
BELFAST, Northern Ireland, February 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Minority parties in the Northern Irish legislature are trying to open the door to abortion on demand by slipping amendments into a government omnibus bill and giving the legislature only two weeks' notice for a vote. A pro-life group calls the maneuver both “anti-democratic” and a “mockery of the legislative process.”
The amendments come from the Alliance and Green Parties and would permit abortions of unborn babies conceived by rape or incest, or who are seriously disabled.
In December, a court ruled that the country's de facto criminalization of abortion except when the mother's life is threatened violates the European Union's human rights laws, but the government is appealing. What is more, the judge's decision does not bind the government.
Liam Gibson, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children's Northern Irish organizer, said that by introducing the amendments on January 29, February 1, and February 3, the pro-abortion MLAs were attempting to avoid the “analysis and painstaking scrutiny” that any measure ought to undergo before being voted on. As well, it precludes much of a response from the public. In legislative terms, “these amendments really are last-minute.”
Not only is the SPUC calling on all Northern Irish pro-lifers to lobby their MLAs against the amendments, but for the first time, it is also appealing to Northern Irish around the world to contact their families and friends back home and urge them to do the same. The tactic, Gibson told LifeSiteNews, is designed to get around the pro-abortion news media, who “are not reporting the real seriousness of these bills.”
Green Party leader Steven Agnew called the current law a “double injustice.”
He claimed that “those who are victims of a horrific crime, or have suffered a terrible tragedy, have their distress compounded by having to travel away from their home, their family, their friends, to receive health care that is being denied to them locally.” He put the cost of the junket to English abortion facilities at 2,000 pounds.
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Gibson said the amendments are all tailored to generate maximum sympathy from ordinary people for women who've been criminally assaulted or who find themselves with an unborn child with disabilities. But not only are those children human beings as deserving of life as any other, said Gibson, but the real intent is to open the door to abortion on demand.
The Green Party's amendment legalizing abortion of unborn children conceived in rape or incest “leaves it up to an obstetrician to decide if this is the case,” said Gibson. “But an obstetrician is completely unqualified to decide if a crime is involved” and will have to take the woman's word for it.
While rape, in the popular mind, is a violent assault, Gibson argued that in many or most cases, the issue is consent, with no violence involved and no physical evidence an obstetrician could use to judge. Gibson believes that women will make false claims of rape to get abortions.
Gibson's warning has unusual support from a pro-abortion quarter. Eileen Calder, the co-founder of Belfast's Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre, also believes that the amendments “could lead to innocent men who get women pregnant after consensual sex being arrested, questioned, and possibly charged over a crime they did not commit.”
Calder predictably draws a very different conclusion from Gibson's, calling on MLAs to pass a bill explicitly allowing abortion on demand.
In 2014, 835 Northern Irish women got abortions in England, far fewer than the roughly 1,500 who did so in 2001. Gibson believes that the number will make a big jump if the amendments succeed. “Right now there is a social stigma. But if abortion becomes legal even in a few circumstances, that stigma is removed” for any kind of abortion, he said.
According to Gibson, polling shows over 90% opposed to changing the existing law, which is matched by a majority in the legislative assembly, according to The Guardian.
What is more, the new first minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, told the same newspaper after taking office last month that she will maintain her Democratic Union Party's longtime cooperation with what The Guardian calls Northern Ireland's “notoriously strict abortion laws.”
Said Foster, “I would not want abortion to be as freely available here as it is in England and don't support the extension of the 1967 act,” a reference to Great Britain's 1967 Abortion Act, which has never applied to Northern Ireland. But the DUR does not have a majority, so that its opposition might not carry the day on the amendments.
The government, which is a coalition, might not be willing to defend a law if it is condemned by a European human rights court. As well, there is the possibility a second Northern Irish judge might go farther than the first and “write down” the existing law with specific conditions when abortion would be legal, dismissing the views of legislators and the general public in the process.
Northern Ireland MLAs: find info here.
Democratic Unionist Party
(028) 9047 1155
Sinn Fein Party
(028) 9034 7350
Social Democratic and Labour Party
(028) 9024 7700
Ulster Unionist Party
(028) 9032 4274
(028) 9145 9110