Belfast Telegraph

Sammy Wilson criticised for 'discarded in bin' comment during abortion debate

The DUP's Sammy Wilson faced criticism during a debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening for referring to feotuses being "discarded and put in a bin".

The East Antrim MP made the comments during a discussion on repealing the 150-year-old Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA) that criminalises abortion in Northern Ireland.

The emergency Commons debate led by Labour’s Stella Creasy proposed that repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Act would respect devolution and not change the abortion time limit or the role of medics.

"As a result of not introducing the legislation which exists here in the rest of the United Kingdom - reflecting the views of the people of Northern Ireland - as a result of that, making both child and parents matter, (pro-life group) Both Lives Matter has indicated there are 100,000 people alive in Northern Ireland today who otherwise would have been killed before they were even born," said Mr Wilson.

He added without the law, many of the children would have been "discarded and put in a bin before they were ever born".

The remark drew criticism from other members of the House, with SNP MP Hannah Bardell saying it was a "disgusting way" of talking about a choice women have to make.

The debate saw other DUP MPs voice their support for Northern Ireland's current abortion legislation and any proposed changes were a devolved matter.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: "Some of the best proponents of a pro-life position in Northern Ireland have come from the Republican tradition. People like Francie Brolly, a former Sinn Fein MLA. People like his wife Anne, who was the former mayor of Limavady."

The Lagan Valley MP also noted the pro-life position of former SDLP MP Mark Durkan, who represented the constituency of Foyle for 12 years between 2005 and 2017.

Jim Shannon said it was a divisive debate and there were a range of views across the House of Commons - but he believed holding the discussion was an "opportunistic move" following the result of the referendum in the Republic of Ireland on liberalising abortion laws.

During the debate Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley said she supported abortion reform, but changing the law would be the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Conservative MP Heidi Allen recalled the "incredibly hard decision" she had faced in deciding to have a termination, and stated her commitment to changing the law in Northern Ireland.

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