DUP: The secretary of state’s move on abortion is a bad day for Northern Ireland

A letter from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP and Carla Lockhart MP

By Letters
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 2:04 am
Updated Friday, 27th May 2022, 3:03 am
The DUP says that it will continue to take a pro-life stand at Westminster and Stormont
The DUP says that it will continue to take a pro-life stand at Westminster and Stormont

We were very disappointed to read the attack made on the DUP in a letter from Lee Maginnis in Saturday’s paper in which he criticised the pro-life stance of the DUP (‘For DUP, Protocol seems to outrank killing the unborn,’ May 22, see link below)

We regard the recent announcement by the secretary of state on the commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland to be a bad decision and a bad day for NI.

It sends a terrible signal about how much value the government places on life. For the last two years we have stood shoulder to shoulder in trying to protect the vulnerable from Covid-19 and sustain life and yet this legislation will make Northern Ireland one of the most dangerous places in Europe to be a child in the womb especially if that little baby has a disability.

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Letter to the editor

We are a pro-life party and if and when Stormont returns, the DUP and those elected representatives who cherish life, will work night and day to bring back life-affirming laws to Northern Ireland. We will champion greater support services for women in crisis or unexpected pregnancy and continue to take a pro-life stand in the assembly and at Westminster.

Until 2019 Northern Ireland had some of the strongest protections for the unborn in the United Kingdom and across Europe because unionists and other pro-life MLA’s were able to use their veto to prevent harmful abortion laws being brought forward in the Assembly.

Sadly, at a time when Sinn Fein had collapsed the devolved institutions, Westminster, in a free vote for MPs, imposed the UK’s most liberal abortion regime on Northern Ireland despite the assembly having previously voted to express its opposition. The DUP voted against this legislation at Westminster but it was railroaded through by MP’s and Peers.

The idea espoused by Lee Maginnis and others of threatening to permanently collapse Stormont would result in unionists abandoning their veto and opting for direct rule from Westminster. This would offer no safeguard whatsoever to protect the unborn as we have seen from consistent pro-abortion votes in parliament, including the decision to impose radical abortion laws on Northern Ireland.

This is a deeply divided issue in Northern Ireland with over 70% of respondents to the consultation on these laws opposing the liberalisation of abortion here. When the NI Assembly was sitting under the last mandate there was no consensus reached on the commissioning of abortion services. It is incredible that simply because agreement has yet to be found on these highly emotive matters, that the secretary of state takes upon himself to legislate his view upon the people of Northern Ireland.

We object to this in the strongest terms as it is a devolved issue and should remain a matter for the elected representatives of the people here to decide. Consequently, the DUP remain of the view that relying on Westminster to safeguard the rights of the unborn child is not the best way forward.

Rt Hon Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Leader – DUP

Mrs Carla Lockhart MP, Chair – All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group

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