London, England, Jan 10, 2020 / 14:23 pm
Carla Lockhart, a Member of Parliament for a Northern Irish constituency, urged Wednesday that the British law dealing with abortion provision in the region be repealed so that the local government can legislate on the topic.
“I want today to make the point to this House, on behalf of the many thousands of people across Northern Ireland who take a pro-life stance, that we want to repeal section 9 with immediate effect and allow for the Northern Ireland Assembly to debate, discuss and evidence-gather on this emotive issue,” Lockhart said Jan. 8 during her maiden speech in the House of Commons in Westminster.
Lockhart, a member of the Democratic Unionist Party, was elected MP for Upper Bann in the 2019 UK general election on Dec. 12.
Section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 decriminalized abortion in Northern Ireland and placed a moratorium on abortion-related criminal prosecutions, and obliges the UK government to create legal access to abortion in the region by March 31.
The legislation took effect in part because the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has been suspended nearly three years due to a dispute between the two major governing parties, was not able to convene for business by Oct. 21, 2019.
The law has drawn some objections that it violates the letter or spirit of devolution agreements that grant the Northern Ireland Assembly power over important matters.
“It is imperative that I speak on this to attempt again to highlight the anger, disappointment and frustration concerning the change in abortion laws that have been foisted upon the people of Northern Ireland,” Lockhart stated. “These changes came in the most roughshod way, with complete contempt for the devolved Administration and the views of the people of Northern Ireland.”
She charged that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland “has not intervened to assist in our crumbling healthcare system, or to fairly reward our healthcare workers or to avert the mental health crisis we are facing. He hasn’t done that because, in his own words, he has said that these are ‘devolved issues’. Abortion was and should be a devolved matter, yet this House has imposed on Northern Ireland the most extreme measures of abortion anywhere across Europe.”