Northern Ireland MPs call for Repeal of Section 9 at Westminster

Following the Stormont Assembly’s vote to reject Northern Ireland’s Westminster-imposed abortion regulations, MPs debated the abortion law again at Westminster today. Today’s debate comes ahead of the final vote on the regulations by Westminster MPs later this month.

Tuesday night’s vote is expected to make it much more difficult for British MPs and peers to vote in favour of the regulations, as they have now been resolutely rejected by the elected representatives of the people of Northern Ireland.

The DUP’s motion, which focused specifically on disability-selective abortion, was passed by 46 votes to 40. All Sinn Fein MLAs voted against the motion opposing abortion up to birth for conditions such as Down syndrome, along with members of the Alliance party, the UUP, SDLP, People Before Profit and some Independent MLAs. All members of the DUP supported the motion, alongside members of the SDLP, the TUV, UPP, and some independent MLAs. 

Find out which MLAs supported and opposed the motion here:

Following the vote, the DUP vowed to keep fighting the law to ensure that responsibility for the devolved matter of abortion is handed back to Stormont.

DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted: “Our MPs will be raising this result at Westminster. On a devolved issue like this, it should be for the Northern Ireland Assembly to decide.”

Also writing on Twitter, DUP MP Carla Lockhart said: “Delighted that the Northern Ireland Assembly has chosen to promote life and stand with people who have disabilities. You ARE valued in our society. I will now take this message to London. Northern Ireland is pro-life and it is for Northern Ireland to make their own legislation.”

Yesterday (Wednesday 3rd June), urgent questions on the abortion regulations in Northern Ireland in the House of Commons today were granted by the speaker. Today’s debate presented another vital opportunity for Northern Ireland’s politicians to debate Westminster’s abortion regime.

In today’s debate, Carla Lockhart MLA asked the UK Government to “recognise both the severe offence these [abortion] regulations pose to people with disabilities, but also that the clear will of the devolved institutions is clear – these regulations are not wanted in Northern Ireland.”

Ian Paisley MP urged the UK Government to allow the NI Assembly to legislate on abortion matters, and to come up with its own conclusions.

“Let’s be clear about this: CEDAW does not require legislation for full-term terminations; CEDAW does not require regulations for disability terminations; CEDAW does not require legislation for sex-selective terminations. That is what is going to happen in Northern Ireland as a result of what has occurred in this place. On Tuesday of this week, 78 MLAs out of a total of 90, in a series of votes in our Assembly, rejected – rejected – the CEDAW recommendations whether the Minister likes it or not.

“They were right to do that, and if the Minister really wants to respect the Assembly […] he should urge the Assembly to go back, give it the space it needs, and allow the Assembly to legislate in these matters and come to its own conclusions. That’s the democratic thing to do. That’s the right thing to do. That’s the appropriate thing to do.”

Jim Shannon MP also addressed Parliament on abortion, and asked the government “to revert to the democratically approved method; let the Northern Ireland representatives and let the people of Northern Ireland decide.”

Jeffery Donaldson MP, the DUP’s Westminster Leader, urged MPs and Peers to vote against the NI regulations: “As Heidi Crowter, the very powerful disability rights campaigner has said, ‘I will now call on the Government not to Ask MPs and Peers to vote for regulations that contain discriminatory provisions that tell people like me that we should not exist.”

You can sign our petition to Repeal Section 9 and keep the pressure on our politicians by clicking HERE:

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