Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland church goers urged to back call for abortion law change to be rescinded

Baroness Nuala O’Loan (Niall Carson/PA)
Baroness Nuala O’Loan (Niall Carson/PA)

Northern Ireland church goers were urged to back a campaign to prevent the liberalisation of abortion laws at Sunday services.

A letter written by Baroness Nuala O'Loan calls on Prime Minister Theresa May to withdraw a bill which could see abortion liberalised and same-sex marriage introduced.

Or if that can not be done, she has urged the government to support an amendment which would see the change to abortion laws put to public consultation and then only put to parliament if there was a majority in favour of a change.

The letter was circulated at some churches on Sunday with congregations urged to sign the letter.

Amendments were voted through by MPs on a bill designed to ensure continuing governance of Northern Ireland and the further delaying of an election in the absence of power sharing.

She said imposing the amended legislation which all of Northern Ireland's MPs did not vote for represented a "massive democratic deficit".

Pointing to the Assembly rejecting a change in the law as recently as 2016, she wrote that attempting to change the law on abortion treated the people of Northern Ireland with "contempt".

"It has the capacity to undermine the delicate political calibration between Northern Ireland and Westminster and to cause significant damage to attempts to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly," she wrote.

She also criticised the fast-tracking process saying there should be proper parliamentary debate on the matter.

"That was not the Government’s fault but the Government now has a responsibility to respond," she wrote.

Speaking in the Lords after the Commons passed the bill the former police ombudsman said she was reminded of "colonial times" saying the move had "driven a coach and horses" through the Good Friday Agreement.

"The people of Northern Ireland are being denied the right the law accords them to make their own decisions in devolved matters," she said.

She said the people of Northern Ireland had rejected a change to the abortion laws and amendments to the bill "would mean that abortion would cease to be subject to any penalty in all circumstances".

"That means that any baby, at any stage of gestation, right up to birth, could be aborted without penalty. There is no human right to kill unborn babies," she told the Lords.

"I believe, as do hundreds and thousands of others, that human life exists from the moment of conception and that it should be protected at all times.

"Even those who are pro-choice are now beginning to accept that abortion is about killing babies. If you are three or five months pregnant and you go for a scan, the radiographer does not say to you, 'That’s your foetus' or 'That’s your embryo'.

"They say to you, 'That’s your baby'. ​When I lost my baby, as the consequence of a bomb explosion, the doctor who stood at the end of my bed did not say to me, 'Your pregnancy is over'. He said to me, 'Your baby is dead'."

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