Maria Horan: Stella Creasy's confusion on Northern Ireland's abortion stance
This Article was originally published in Alive! Magazine, and is republished here with permission from author, Maria Horan.
After many months of attempting to forcibly foist abortion onto Northern Ireland, Westminster Labour MP Stella Creasy has finally accomplished her aim. After attaching a clause to the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Bill, she has piggy-backed a push for abortion on demand to at least seven months in Northern Ireland, with the potential of de-criminalising abortion in all of the UK, which will render the 1967 Abortion Act obsolete and will potentially permit abortion to birth for any reason. The most recent abortion figures in the UK were over a staggering 200,000 a year, and yet there are those such as Ann Furedi, CEO of BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service), who, like Creasy, believes that the UK law remains too restrictive and needs to be “decriminalised”.
This Northern Ireland Bill was formed to deal with the fact that there is currently no active sitting government in the North. Astoundingly, Creasy managed to attach a completely irrelevant amendment to this Bill, requesting that the British government remove Clauses 58 and 59 in the “Offences Against Persons Act 1861”, which still regulate the 1967 Abortion Act, which Northern Ireland rejected over fifty years ago. These are: “Section 58: A woman is guilty of an offence if she unlawfully procures her own miscarriage” and “Section 59: Anyone who supplies drugs or instruments to be unlawfully used to procure abortion is guilty of an offence”. Once these clauses are gone, the next step for abortion-minded MPs will be to apply to abortion in all of the UK. As Life Charity UK points out, removing these clauses will usher in a free-for-all business dream for the abortion industry in all parts of Britain, which will remove the need for legal checks and conditions on abortion, which go to protect women from exploitation.
And all of this is being pushed while Creasy herself is pregnant. It is bewildering that she can't see the contradiction in treasuring her own soon-to-be-born child, while condemning to death the pre-born children of vulnerable women who typically seek abortion: ones who lack her life advantages, such as those financially struggling, with relationship issues, more likely to be of colour, immigrant and often struggle with the English language. Creasy is a very privileged white woman, well-educated and generously paid and clearly shows little understanding of women's lives who fall beyond her own narrow scope of reality. Not only does she demonstrate a breathtaking ignorance on the North’s unique culture, but she also refused to speak with prolife representatives while making a flying visit to deliver a speech to abortion advocates in Northern Ireland two years ago. Her public presentation flouted the usual tired cliches about “anti-choicers” and she even later claimed that she needed a police escort to exit the premises.
This move to sneak abortion into Northern Ireland through the “back door” was breathtakingly paternalistic and with more than a whiff of post-colonialism. If Creasy and her colleagues had actually bothered to ask people in the North how they felt about this cynical move, she would have learned that in a recent ComRes Northern Irish poll, 66% of women are opposed to having Westminster forcing abortion on them without due regard for devolution. No matter, as Creasy is convinced that her current role in Westminster is to patronisingly “rescue” Northern Ireland’s women, who have actually never asked her to do this. However, the truth is that like the majority of MPs in Westminster, Creasy is not remotely interested in the North but is merely using the region as a pawn to force the 1967 Abortion Act to be rendered obsolete.
The one loophole in Creasy’s Bill that it will not come into law if the Northern Irish Parliament re-convenes before October the 21st. The fact that Creasy and so many of her colleagues by their vote have clearly shown no respect for the people of Northern Ireland and have failed to consult them on such an important issue may actually spur on Stormont to put aside their differences and re-convene, so that they may take their power back from Westminster.
Creasy would do well to listen to the wisdom of Baroness Nuala O’Loan, who lost an unborn baby, due to a bomb explosion in the North in 1977. After Creasy’s amendment was voted in, O’Loan delivered an excellent speech in which she eloquently described how Creasy’s underhanded move is no doubt being pushed by the UK abortion industry who are eager to remove any legal constraints on abortions so that it will be available to birth throughout Britain for any reason whatsoever. It is appalling that so many MPs in Westminster actually think this way, as demonstrated in their vote to remove the clauses. The time has come to say enough is enough. If they wish to retain devolution and rights within the UK, this may be the very issue on which Northern Ireland most certainly needs to say “No”.