In the midst of Westminster’s move to remove restrictions on abortion in Northern Ireland, a pro-abortion group is suing because they believe the government is not legalizing abortion fast enough.
The London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign (LIARC) claims that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland failed to act appropriately when a June 2018 court ruling deemed the country’s pro-life laws non-compliant with human rights law in cases of rape, incest, and fetal abnormality. However, the decision was thrown out.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Janet Farrel, who is currently representing LIARC, said: “This case is about the failure of the UK Government to take action to protect the rights of women and girls in Northern Ireland. This is despite the UK Government having the power to act, and despite Northern Ireland having no devolved government in place for two-and-a-half years.”
Currently, abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland except when a woman’s life is at risk (which is never actually necessary as explained in the video below). Measures to loosen abortion laws through legislation or referendum have failed by a wide margin as recently as 2016.
Northern Ireland has been without a local government since talks between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin – the two major parties – collapsed in 2017. Since then, Westminster has been in charge of certain issues while other issues are simply not dealt with while the government is out. Abortion was specifically named as an issue that would be left alone. In February, the Secretary of State stated that Westminster had no authority to legislate on the issue.
That all changed recently, however, when in a condescending attempt to force a return of the government, Westminster forcibly liberalized Northern Ireland’s abortion laws. The Assembly could overturn the issue if it re-convenes before October 21st. The House of Lords also voted in favor of the measure, as expected.
“This decision – to allow the ending of the lives of the most innocent human beings – has been taken out of the hands of the Northern Irish people and imposed on them by the Government in Westminster.”https://t.co/eJRrWoJUEf pic.twitter.com/IkzQjwCGdw
— Right To Life UK (@RightToLifeUK) July 18, 2019
Despite Westminster’s recent act (which the UK government has said will likely take 18 months or more to implement), the LIARC says it’s not enough. They want a judicial review of the Secretary of State, as well as legal assurance that pro-abortion legislation will be passed. In the meantime, the group is crowdfunding its legal costs.
Pro-life protections for preborn babies in Northern Ireland have saved an estimated 10,000 lives and pro-lifers want to keep it that way. They quickly mobilized to gain 16,000 signatures on a letter urging Westminster to abandon its plans to legalize abortion.
“I say to noble Lords with heavy heart… they are walking on very sacred ground as they contemplate these issues,” said Baroness Nuala O’Loan. “It is not just about abortion; it is about the whole devolved settlement, the integrity of government and the future peace and prosperity of all four parts of the United Kingdom.”
Lord Kevin Shinkwin, who has brittle bone disease, said that while he does not have an official position on abortion, he feels that changing the law to legalize abortion based on a prenatal diagnosis tells the parents and families of children with disabilities – and individuals with disabilities themselves – that they are not equal in the eyes of the government.
“Today, Northern Ireland is the safest place in the United Kingdom to be diagnosed with a disability,” he said. “If the bill is passed, that will change overnight on October 21.”
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