Focus falls on alarming prospect of major abortion liberalisation

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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Of all the developments that happened on Tuesday at Westminster, after the series of votes on Northern Ireland legislation, the greatest focus yesterday was on abortion.

While there is major concern at the likely end of traditional marriage, and significant opposition to the introduction of same-sex weddings (all the more so given an October deadline for the return of Stormont that gives succour to Sinn Fein blackmail), there is particularly deep anxiety at the loss of life that will flow from abortion reform.

It is sobering therefore to think that even David Steel, the architect of the 1967 abortion legislation that in effect legalised abortion on demand in Great Britain (while nominally having constraints), has told this newspaper that there are too many terminations now there. There certainly are, and it will be dreadful if the same is introduced here.

Meanwhile, the attorney general John Larkin is saying that the Labour MP Stella Creasy’s abortion amendment is unclear and inconsistent with human rights texts. And the DUP MLA Jim Wells is saying that the party should bring down the government if this all becomes law.

This whole saga is rooted in government and NIO weakness towards republicans, and a determination to get Stormont back (rather than taking the obvious step of direct rule, supervised by MLAs, regardless of any Sinn Fein boycott).

But then as Doug Beattie’s article opposite points out, if the government is weak even on the legacy of decades of IRA terrorism, it is hardly likely to get tough on anything else.

It would be a huge step for the DUP to bring down the government, and not one to be taken lightly. But that possibility must be kept alive if we enter territory in which everything — social issues, legacy, the disastrous backstop, Irish language, the republican Stormont veto — is resolved to the satisfaction of Sinn Fein. In that scenario, which is not yet present, the arrangement with the Tories would have been of no long term benefit to unionism, but rather of considerable harm.