Westminster MPs approve NI Secretary of State's new powers to over-ride Stormont on abortion

Westminster MPs approved controversial legislation which gives the Secretary of State Brandon Lewis power to force the NI Executive to fully commission abortion across Northern Ireland.

The Westminster Parliament originally forced abortion on Northern Ireland in 2019 through Section 9 of the ‘NI Executive Formation Act’ - which implemented recommendations of the UN's pro-abortion CEDAW committeeWestminster’s abortion legislation came into force in Northern Ireland on 31st March last year. Latest governement figures reveal that 1345 unborn babies have been killed since then. However, the Westminster Government’s Northern Ireland Office (NIO) said “We remain disappointed…” that more babies haven’t been killed by abortion.

To ensure more babies are killed, Brandon Lewis laid The Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021 in Parliament last month, giving him power to force the NI Executive and public health bodies to implement abortion across NI.

Alliance Party MP Stephen Farry, and SDLP MPs Claire Hanna and Colum Eastwood, support Brandon Lewis' regulations to force more abortion on Northern Ireland.

Yesterday (Monday 26th April 2021) MPs on the First Delegated Legislation Committee debated Mr Lewis’ regulations and passed them by 13 votes to 3.

Opposing the regualtions, Tory MP Miriam Cates said Mr Lewis’ regulations breach the Good Friday Agreement and that the intervention by MPs into the matter was rejected by both the NI Assembly and almost 80% of respondents to a statutory consultation. She also took issue with the CEDAW recommendations on abortion for NI and called for the repeal of the legislation in light of the fact the Assembly is now sitting. But the government flatly rejected this.

The government had initially claimed the CEDAW recommendations constituted a legal requirement on the UK, but said the government’s latest documentation conceded that this was untrue.

The CEDAW recommendations include a commitment to roll out compulsory sex education in NI schools, teaching children how to access abortions, and that the CEDAW recommendations also call for pro-lifers to be banned from the vicinity of abortion centres in NI.

The abortion regulations were opposed by DUP MPs Carla Lockhart and Jim Shannon.

Carla Lockhart MP said: “Despite what has previously been claimed, it is clear that these regulations are not a requirement of international law.

“With the devolution restored, each time these powers [to impose laws on NI] are used the Government sends out the message that the Northern Ireland Assembly and our present constitutional arrangements are not fit for purpose.”

She added: “MPs should recognise the enormous damage they are inflicting upon the credibility of devolution by repeatedly using a regulation making power designed for a time when Stormont was suspended.” 

Jim Shannon MP said the treatment of the devolved assembly by Westminster on the matter had been “humiliating”.

In closing the debate, UK minister Robin Walker made the threat that the government was giving Stormont “one more chance” before the summer recess to fully commission abortion across Northern Ireland or the UK government “will not hesitate” to direct it to do so.

The House of Lords will vote on the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations tomorrow (Wednesday 28th April 2021)

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