By John-Henry Westen


BELFAST, May 27, 2009 ( – A second United Nations (UN) committee has insisted that Northern Ireland permit abortion in cases beyond the life-of-the-mother exception under which some 70-80 abortions currently take place annually.  In meetings that ended last week, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights called for Britain's liberal abortion law to be extended to Northern Ireland.


This marks the second time in under a year in which the UN has insisted that Northern Ireland reject legal protection for the right to life. Last July, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) similarly called on Northern Ireland to allow more abortion.


At the most recent meeting, which took place in Geneva, the UN committee said in its report: “The Committee calls upon the State party to amend the abortion law of Northern Ireland to bring it in line with the 1967 Abortion Act with a view to preventing clandestine and unsafe abortions in cases of rape, incest or foetal abnormality.”


The UK pro-life group, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), has criticized the UN committee for its abortion advocacy, which flies in the face of long-established UN principles. Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland said: “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights upholds the inherent dignity and equal rights of all members of the human family, including children before birth. It is disturbing, therefore, to see how far the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has departed from the UN's founding principles.”


Northern Ireland pro-life leaders and politicians say they resent the interference of the UN and the British government into the highly sensitive topic of abortion. As recently as May 2008, the leaders of all four main political parties in Northern Irelandwrote to the government at Westminster objecting to plans to impose legalized abortion on the country.


The UN pressure has been insistent, however, over the objections of Northern Ireland’s government representatives. 


When the 2007CEDAW committee queried about changing the abortion legislation, the Irish representative responded that abortion was a matter of criminal law and that no change in legislation could occur in Northern Ireland without consent from all parties.  A CEDAW committee member fired back that the government was not adequately addressing the abortion issue and that not taking action on the matter is “incompatible with obligations under the CEDAW convention.”


SPUC has called on those supporting the right to life to tell the UN to stop promoting abortion.  “UN committees must be told to stop promoting abortion,” said Gibson.  “It is time for pro-life politicians everywhere to call on the UN to return to its founding principles and protect the human rights of all members of the human family from the first moments of life until its natural end.”


To contact the UN:


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

[email protected]