Thousands gathered outside Stormont on Saturday to 'Rally for Life' against proposals to extend abortion laws to Northern Ireland. The stormy weather on the day set the scene, but the storm over abortion law is only brewing.
The Abortion Act 1967 does not apply to Northern Ireland, it never has. When the Act went through Westminster, Northern Ireland had its own parliament and the issue of abortion was left for it to decide. It never took up the issue. When Direct Rule returned Westminster never extended it to Northern Ireland. No Northern Ireland MP has ever called for changes in abortion law, and it is clear that moves to extend abortion law are not welcome.
Yet, pro-choice MPs in Westminster are to challenge what the Northern Irish want. They have been pushing to extend the Abortion Act 1967 to Northern Ireland through the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. The reaction in Ireland has been strongly against extending the Act. There have even been discussions that abortion could affect Northern Ireland's peace process.
Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA attending the Rally said, "Our opponents say that this issue is about equality. Well, where is the equality for the people of Northern Ireland when they can have no say over legislation that they don't want? The Good Friday Agreement, the Belfast Agreement says that all legislation in Northern Ireland must have public consultation. There must be an impact equality assessment. Where is the public consultation? If Westminster imposes the Abortion Act, as a minister in the Northern Ireland government I will not implement that law."
At a demonstration in Belfast for the Abortion Act to be extended to Northern Ireland on the same day as 'Rally for Life' only 50 attended. The overwhelming majority do not want the Act extended.
Iris Robinson MP MLA who also attended 'Rally for Life', reacted to abortion in Northern Ireland saying, "Abortion in Northern Ireland: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER." She went onto say, "Ulster says no to abortion! We will not be silenced. That there are so many people here today (at the Rally) shows the majority in Northern Ireland do not want abortion to be socially acceptable."
"In 2006 98% of Abortions in England and Wales were for social reasons. Only 0.4 percent was for a risk to the life of the mother. Abortion at any stage of pregnancy is the taking of a human life. Stand with me. A majority of people must have the moral conviction to say not in my name!"
Representatives from major Pro-Life groups in Northern Ireland arrived in London yesterday to present a petition to 10 Downing Street against the extension of the Abortion Act.
Alive and Kicking is a campaign to make abortion rare. Alive and Kicking Alliance includes CARE, CCFON, Christian Medical Fellowship, CORE, Evangelical Alliance, Guild of Catholic Doctors, Lawyers' Christian Fellowship, LIFE, Maranatha, Prolife Alliance, Real Choice, Student Life Net.
For more information see: http://www.aliveandkickingcampaign.org/