UK launches ‘awareness campaign’ to prepare Northern Ireland women for abortion access
October 3, 2019 (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) — In a move that a SPUC spokesman says "undermines any consultation process", the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) is planning to launch an awareness campaign related to the likely change in the law on abortion.
"Duty To Legislate"
Julian Smith MP, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said in the House of Commons Monday night: "The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 requires the UK Parliament to introduce laws on same-sex marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships, abortion and victims' payments. This House has spoken, and the duty to legislate will come into effect if the Executive are not back up and running before 21 October. My Department will shortly begin an awareness campaign to ensure that women and citizens across Northern Ireland are clear as to how we plan to proceed to regulate for these new legal duties."
Abortion will be decriminalised in Northern Ireland if the devolved Assembly at Stormont is not reconvened by 21 October, after Labour MP Stella Creasy hijacked the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act to impose abortion on the Province.
Philip Lynn, SPUC's Northern Ireland Development Officer, said: "The NIO's decision to launch an awareness campaign on the changes to Northern Ireland's abortion law pre-empts any effort at public consultation and undermines the credibility of any future consultative process. The campaign appears to be aimed at directing women to abortion services. It will not provide women with accurate information on the humanity of the unborn child nor the overwhelming evidence of the mental and physical risks associated with abortion."
Mr Lynn continued: "Not one of Northern Ireland's sitting MPs voted for these changes, and tens of thousands of people have already taken to the streets, written letters, or signed petitions in protest. By imposing an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, Westminster has ridden roughshod over the devolution settlement. The Secretary of State has a duty to respect the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland and set a date for the reformation of a Stormont Executive before the 21st October."
In response to a powerful intervention by pro-life DUP MP Ian Paisley, Mr Smith did give some indication that the Government are prepared to facilitate the reconvening of the Assembly, saying: "We all have to do everything we can to get things up and running in the coming days and weeks. That is important for the issue of abortion, which I believe is best dealt with by the Executive in Northern Ireland for the people of Northern Ireland, but it is also in the best interests of all citizens across Northern Ireland to get decisions done and political decisions made."
SPUC is asking members to contact their MPs, asking them to write to Julian Smith, calling on him to reconvene the Assembly.
Published with permission from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.