Westminster needs to reverse its imposed ultra liberal abortion law, and if it doesn’t Stormont needs a long-term plan to replace it

The language of ‘human rights’ is often deployed in situations where it is inappropriate at best, if not actually a complete distortion of the concept.

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

It is used, for example, by some of the worst terrorist rights abusers, who felt they had the authority to end the most important human right of all, that of the right to life, yet project themselves as rights defenders.

It has been used recently to justify flagrant breaches of social distancing rules on the grounds of the right to protest, thus putting other people at risk of an outbreak of Covid-19.

It was used in the debate around same-sex marriage to undermine the traditional understanding of such unions.

And it has been used to cloud the debate around abortion.

The arguments around terminations of pregnancy are many, and even strong opponents of abortions disagree over how society should respond for example to rape victims who become pregnant. But human rights has been cited in the debate over Northern Ireland to justify sweeping and terrible changes to legislation here, in which there is now precious little protection of the right of the unborn.

As the open letter from the Presbyterian Church, opposite, says, it is entirely inappropriate to cite the CEDAW Convention as meaning a right to abortion. This is, or certainly should be, a matter for nations and legislatures within them.

Northern Ireland has strong claim to the most traditional views on abortion in any part of these islands, yet Westminster has imposed what are in some respects among the most liberal abortion laws in the world.

It was done in part to put pressure on MLAs to resume an assembly that Sinn Fein was allowed to pull down.

It is not too late to recover from the worst of these regulations. The long-term goal should be to build alliances within Stormont so as ultimately to get the most restrictive abortion laws for which a consensus can be found. The short-term goal is for Westminster this week to rethink and oppose the ultra liberal abortion regime that it is pushing through.

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Alistair Bushe

Editor