Stormont Assembly votes to reject extreme Westminster imposed abortion law

The Stormont Assembly has voted against the Westminster imposed abortion regulations, which allow for abortion up to birth for a range of reasons including disability. 

Although the outcome of last night’s debate does not change the law, it sends an unequivocally clear message to Westminster that the cruel and extreme abortion law is not in the name of the people of Northern Ireland nor their elected representatives.

The DUP motion rejecting the “imposition” of abortion regulations by Westminster passed by 46 votes to 40. One MLA abstained.

Some SDLP, UUP and Alliance Party representatives voted with the DUP while others opposed it. All Sinn Fein members voted to reject the motion, once again signalling the party’s support for one of the most extreme abortion laws in Europe. You can find the full voting record here:

While the motion rejected the new abortion law in its entirety, it focused on the regulation that permits abortions up to birth in cases of severe disability. It referenced the high-profile campaign by disability rights activists Heidi Crowter, who has Down’s Syndrome and who claims such abortion laws discriminate against those with Down syndrome. 

Precious Life strongly welcomed last night ‘s vote, and said that the next step must be the full repeal of the Westminster imposed abortion law. 

Director Bernadette Smyth said:

“Precious Life strongly welcomes tonight’s vote which is a reaffirmation of the rejection of this radical abortion regime. Tonight’s vote has made it clear that this cruel and extreme abortion law is not in the name of the people of Northern Ireland. Our elected representatives at Stormont have sent a powerful message to Westminster that it must withdraw these horrific regulations and hand back the devolved matter of abortion to the elected representatives of the people of Northern Ireland at Stormont. 

“This ferocious abortion law, which allows for abortion up to birth, has been persistently rejected by the people of Northern Ireland. 79% of the 21,000 respondents to the UK Government’s consultation said they did not want to see any form of abortion introduced to Northern Ireland. The democratic will of the people is to see every child and mother protected from abortion, and this must now be achieved through the full repeal of Section 9.”

DUP MLA Paul Givan welcomed the outcome of the debate.

“The Assembly has now rejected these extreme abortion regulations on the basis of how they discriminate against the unborn especially those with disabilities,” he said.

Mr Givan said the regulations must be withdrawn. 

“The regulations imposed by Westminster have led to Northern Ireland having the most liberal abortion regime in Europe,” he added.

“This approach undermined the devolution settlement, but worst of all facilitated the ending of so many precious lives. That is something that the majority of people here in Northern Ireland are against.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MLA Emma Sheerin said the DUP could not be allowed to “block access to modern, compassionate healthcare”.

“The motion as put forward by the DUP is quite obviously an attempt to undermine the entirety of the abortion provision which has thus far been put into law in the north of Ireland,” she said.

Earlier yesterday, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald tweeted: “Sinn Fein wants those same rights secured for women in the South to be delivered in the North. Nobody left behind.”

The NI Assembly’s vote will make it much more difficult for MPs and Peers to vote to impose these regulations on Northern Ireland when they have been resoundingly rejected by the elected representatives of the Northern Irish electorate.

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