Clerics were speaking after the Secretary of State laid regulations today that remove the need for the Department of Health to seek Executive Committee approval in relation to commissioning abortion services in Northern Ireland. This means the Department of Health will have no further barriers to commission and fund services.
In a joint statement, Rev Trevor Gribben, PCI General Secretary and Rev Daniel Kane, Convener of PCI’s Council for Public Affairs, said: “We see today’s intervention by Mr Lewis as not only unjust, but a continued assault on the preciousness of life.”
Instead, they called for new “state-of-the-art perinatal care services” for women with crisis pregnancies.
They argued that Mr Lewis is “ignoring” the voices of the 79% of 21,000 individuals and organisations who responded to his consultation and opposed his plans.
“Mr Lewis was under no obligation to bring forward this maximalist approach to implementing the recommendations of the 2018 Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, known as ‘The CEDAW Report’. Not only that, but he has in effect, been given a blank cheque to interfere unilaterally with many aspects of the devolved administration in Northern Ireland. As we have consistently said, such a power grab by the UK Government would be unthinkable in the Scottish, or Welsh devolved contexts.” They added: “We see the removal of protection of the lives of unborn children as an unacceptable, immoral and retrograde step.”
Meanwhile, the Free Presbyterian Church said that to hear Mr Lewis classify abortion as a health care issue is “beyond credulity...We wonder how we have got into a position where killing defenceless human beings became a ‘human right’?”
The church added that it was “shocked” that he would overrule devolution to commission abortion services.