We fear abortion up to term on horizon for NI

Diana Johnson
Diana Johnson

Diana Johnson is the Labour MP for Hull North. Yet next month she will introduce a Bill in the House of Commons which – although we have not seen the wording yet – could seek to make abortion legally available for any reason whatsoever in Northern Ireland.

Diana Johnson is the Labour MP for Hull North. Yet next month she will introduce a Bill in the House of Commons which – although we have not seen the wording yet – could seek to make abortion legally available for any reason whatsoever in Northern Ireland.

Liam Gibson of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn (SPUC) in NI

Liam Gibson of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn (SPUC) in NI

The reason we believe this is because The Guardian newspaper reported, on October 25, 2017, that Ms Johnson was working on draft legislation “for a full-blown decriminalisation bill”. And the same day, she spoke at a conference alongside groups and individuals committed to a campaign to permit abortion for any reason, at any time up to birth.

Under such a legal regime a baby girl could be aborted just because she was a girl. In fact, any baby considered inconvenient, even a week before she was to be bornl could be killed by abortion. And even if an abortionist were to kill a 38-week foetus in the process of being born he could not be prosecuted for a criminal offence. This is what “full-blown decriminalisation” means.

And it appears that it is this extremist agenda that a group of English MPs are determined to foist on Northern Ireland.

Shocking as such a legal regime would be, Ms Johnson’s blatant disregard of the democratic rule of law makes her intention to introduce a Bill even more outrageous. Abortion law is a devolved matter. The legal authority to decide what that law permits rests with Northern Ireland’s elected representatives - not with politicians outside the Province.

In 2008, Dr Ian Paisley, Gerry Adams, Sir Reg Empey and Mark Durkan signed a letter sent to all MPs from England, Scotland and Wales stating that: “the imposition of legislation on abortion that excluded the Assembly from having a say would undoubtedly undermine the integrity of the devolution process and significantly would reduce public confidence in the political progress we’ve made.”

What the party leaders said 10 years ago is still true today but the Assembly is now in limbo. It is therefore vital that everyone who believes that all children deserve the protection of the law, before as well as after birth, should write to the Prime Minister, Theresa May at 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AB to insist that her government ensures that Diana Johnson’s Bill is defeated. Abortion is not healthcare, it is an act of lethal violence directed at an unborn child. And if the history of Northern Ireland proves anything it is that violence is never a solution.

• Liam Gibson is NI regional officer for pressure group SPUC (the Society for the Protection of the Unborn), which describes itself as Europe’s oldest pro-life group, and which expects to open its first permanent office in Northern Ireland in the coming months