NI abortion law: MPs reject calls to impose change

Pro-life campaigners march on Parliament in February to highlight the 100,000 people they estimated are alive today because of Northern Ireland's restrictive abortion laws.
Pro-life campaigners march on Parliament in February to highlight the 100,000 people they estimated are alive today because of Northern Ireland's restrictive abortion laws.
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Pro-life campaigners have welcomed a House of Commons report which opposes proposals to impose abortion on Northern Ireland from Westminster.

The Joint Committee on the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill - made up only of English and Welsh MPs - said that its draft bill has been widely welcomed by organisations representing survivors of Domestic Abuse and is a “once in a generation opportunity to address domestic violence”.

However their report added that there was a temptation to use the bill to address other issues linked to Domestic Abuse.

“This is a temptation that the committee has tried to resist to help ensure this vital legislation has the best opportunity possible of making it onto the statute books.

“In particular the committee felt strongly that this Bill should not be used to change the law on abortion in Northern Ireland and this view was reflected in the evidence that we received.”

Welcoming the report, Liam Gibson, NI spokesman for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said the committee was right to resist the efforts to “hijack” this Bill in order to impose abortion on demand on NI.

“Abortion itself is a lethal act of violence directed at an innocent child, so it would be outrageous if legislation aimed at combating domestic abuse was used to target unborn children with the lethal violence of abortion.”

Women in violent relationships are often coerced into abortion, he said, with one study finding the rate of domestic abuse among women undergoing an abortion six times higher than others.

Bernadette Smyth, director of pro-life group Precious Life said: “This report is of crucial importance and the committee was correct to resist the efforts to introduce a cruel and extreme abortion regime in Northern Ireland.”

Amnesty International, which campaigns to relax NI abortion law, was invited to comment but had not done so at the time of going to press.