CNA Staff, Jun 17, 2020 / 15:40 pm
The British Parliament has given final approval to permissive abortion rules in Northern Ireland, in effect since March, despite the Northern Ireland Assembly vote opposing the regulations.
“Today is an incredibly tragic day for Northern Ireland, for the unborn child and everyone who supports the right to life,” said Catherine Robinson, a spokesperson for the group Right to Life UK.
“Despite the efforts of tens of thousands of Northern Irish people, MLAs, Northern Irish MPs and pro-life campaigners, like Heidi Crowter, the U.K. Government’s extreme abortion legislation continues to be in place as a result of today’s vote,” Robinson said.
The 253 to 177 vote in the House of Commons took place June 17, BBC News reports. MPs previously voted to decriminalize abortion in July 2019, as an amendment to a bill to keep the region running in the absence of a functioning government when the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont was locked in a power-sharing dispute between the two leading parties. Normally the Northern Ireland legislature would have control over its own abortion laws.
Though the regulations had already entered force, Parliament was required to approve them. If MPs had rejected the regulations, the U.K. government would have been forced either to redraft the rules or to allow Parliament to vote on revoking the regulations.
The group Humanists UK praised the vote, saying “Northern Ireland has gone from having one of the worst abortion laws in Europe to one of the best.”
Robinson suggested that pro-life campaigning helped sway more MPs to take a pro-life position than the previous vote.
She said the vote was not the end, but rather the beginning of efforts to repeal the legislation through Northern Ireland’s Assembly. She said legislators must bring forward legislation to repeal the laws.