A last-minute attempt to halt the introduction of a liberal abortion regime and same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland ended in failure yesterday. Source: The Tablet.
In spite of opposition by politicians and the public, new liberal laws on abortion came into force overnight and gay marriage will be legalised.
The new regulations governing the provision of abortion will not be ready until the end of March 2020, which means that during the intervening five months, abortion will be unregulated.
According to Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) there will now be “next to no legal protections for women or babies and abortion will also be legal on the grounds of disability or gender”.
The recall of Stormont Assembly for the first time in two-and-a-half years was spearheaded by members of the Legislative Assembly opposed to abortion who were seeking to halt the decriminalisation of abortion by fast-tracking private members’ legislation, the Defence of the Unborn Child Bill 2019.
In July, MPs at Westminster passed legislation requiring the British government to liberalise abortion and introduce same sex marriage to Northern Ireland if devolution was not restored in Northern Ireland by 21 October. Stormont was suspended in January 2017.
Without agreement on a speaker, Stormont’s business yesterday could not proceed. The role of speaker must be agreed by both sides, nationalists and unionists.
During yesterday’s proceedings, no member of Sinn Féin attended the sitting and members of the nationalist SDLP left the chamber, meaning a speaker could not be elected and the legislation to block abortion could not proceed.
Following the collapse of yesterday’s sitting at Stormont, the leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, criticised what had happened, saying it was a “shameful day” as Northern Ireland would have the most “liberal abortion laws anywhere in Europe”.
In a statement, CARE said the new abortion laws marked a radical shift from Northern Ireland’s previous law on abortion, which it claimed had saved 100,000 lives.
“The new laws were imposed on Northern Ireland by MPs and Peers at Westminster and a recent survey by Lucid Talk revealed the majority of people in NI do not support the new regime,” said CARE .
Bid to halt new abortion regime ends in failure (The Tablet)
MLAs' bid to block abortion reform fails at Stormont (Irish News)