Iona Institute NI is deeply saddened that a letter has been sent by Stella Creasey to Amber Rudd, the minister for women and equalities and the home office, on behalf of over 130 MPs calling on the minster to ensure comprehensive access to abortion for women in Northern Ireland. We note the letter cites frequently the recent CEDAW report 23/2/18 condemning NI’s pro-life laws as violating the human rights of women.
As spokeswoman Tracy Harkin says, not a single NI MP has signed this letter. At a time when the news is overflowing with reports on talks to get the devolved institutions up and running again, what we have here are a number of non-local MPs proposing to legislate for NI without the consent of our own MPs. It is highly ironic that these MPs would seek to legislate for NI in this respect.
Tracy continues, there is no international treaty, convention, or law which stipulates that abortion is a human right. The authors of the letter to the Rt Hon Rudd note on several occasions that their stance is based on CEDAW’s flawed interpretation of international human rights law, but not in fact on any actual concrete law or legislative framework that is currently in place. Effectively what we have are a number of pro-abortion MPs interpreting international law to suit an agenda which would seek to bring abortion into NI without the consent of our own MPs.
The authors of the letter emphasise the criminal status of abortion here in NI and they urge its decriminalisation. But they themselves wish to see the 1967 abortion act extended to NI, yet this act itself treats abortions carried out outside of the terms of this act as a criminal matter, and thus even here it is recognised that abortion is a practice which must be regulated by criminal law. The only difference then between NI and the rest of the UK is that we in NI have a much more positive regulation of abortion with our pro-life laws than does the rest of the UK. Such pro-life laws have successfully led to the saving of at least 100,000 of our citizens. By contrast, 1 in 5 healthy pregnancies in the rest of the UK end in abortion, not to mention the high percentage of terminations performed where a disability has been detected.
Tracy further adds, it is particularly sad that this letter has emerged on international women’s day. A day in which we should be rejoicing at the presence of women in leadership roles and positions of responsibility in our society. This is especially pertinent to us here in NI where our pro-life laws have saved the lives of at least 100,000 citizens, and in the Island of Ireland in general which is recognised internationally as one of the safest places in the world in which to be pregnant. Unfortunately, our culture of caring for the lives of both mother and baby are under considerable attack. We rejoice however in the leadership role women of all ages continue to play in the pro-life movement north and south. On this international women’s day we will continue to reject abortion as a solution to any crisis, and embrace a truly compassionate and progressive culture in which both lives are recognised, protected, and respected in law and practice
We would urge our NI MPs to speak strongly and proudly in defence of our pro-life laws, and not to be intimidated by those who would push their interpretation of human rights laws as the standard by which they are to be implemented.