Belfast Telegraph

Alban Maginness: Westminster's amendment on abortion in NI is colonialism pure and simple... it must be resisted

Silence of the pro-life SDLP is perplexing and, unless addressed, could prove costly for party, says Alban Maginness

MPs voted to change abortion laws last week
MPs voted to change abortion laws last week
Alban Maginness

By Alban Maginness

In a fit of midsummer madness, the dysfunctional Parliament at Westminster, which is currently the laughing stock of Europe if not the world, and which cannot get its act together over Brexit, passed an amendment to impose abortion on the people of Northern Ireland without their say.

All sitting Northern Ireland MPs opposed this abortion amendment. This amendment was inappropriately attached to a technical Bill dealing with the postponement of Assembly elections in Northern Ireland. The amendment, though clearly outside the scope of this Bill, was unusually - and wrongly - permitted by the Speaker.

This is the same irresponsible and anarchic Parliament that has no functioning government and is driving the UK recklessly over the Brexit cliff. It will soon to be headed up by an unprincipled opportunist as Prime Minister, who has fallen in love with his own ego.

What faith could anyone have in this reckless Parliament, that has clearly outlived its usefulness, but which is seriously determined to impose an extremely radical abortion regime on Northern Ireland?

But, in doing so, Parliament has clearly breached the principle of devolution in relation to this bitterly divisive issue.

The misplaced euphoria of local abortion supporters will be short-lived, for, by passing this amendment, devolution itself is damaged.

In addition the Good Friday Agreement is thereby weakened as it is substantially based on the power-sharing Assembly addressing our own social and economic problems, no matter how intractable they may be.

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This quick-fix amendment will bring long-term harm as the imposition of abortion by the imperial Parliament exemplifies the worst in colonial thinking by British politicians.

A bad law imposed to determine a fiercely divided issue will inevitably cause resentment.

The absurdity of Sinn Fein in supporting this move by the British Parliament is astounding. Ostensibly, they are so principled a republican party that they cannot even bear to attend, but yet they can welcome the imposition of a draconian abortion law.

The silence of the pro-life SDLP is perplexing and could seriously undermine its credibility in relation to its position on abortion. Unless it gets its act together quickly, electoral damage could be caused.

It should join in the active civic opposition to this unprecedented change to the law, which, if fully enacted, will remove all protection for the unborn.

Irrespective of whatever side you are on regarding abortion, you should not support this issue being decided by direct rule, as the political consequences are too dangerous.

If you go down this pathway, how then can you oppose legislation on welfare reform, or water charges, or other contentious issues?

You cannot pick and choose issues that find favour, otherwise you end up destroying the concept of devolution.

If implemented, this amendment will have the effect of decriminalising abortion law here. In practice this will mean abortion will be permitted up to 28 weeks and, in certain circumstances, up to actual birth.

It is even worse than the 1967 Abortion Act in Britain, with all its inhumanity and cruelty. Even Lord Steele, the author of the Abortion Act, has criticised the excessive numbers of abortions in Britain today.

They stand at an incredible 200,000 per year - that is 550 per day. Where now lies the right to life of the unborn in these islands?

Stella Creasy, the Labour MP and author of this amendment, is not primarily interested in Northern Ireland, but rather decriminalisation of abortion in Britain.

Her agenda - and that of her other backers - is simply a way of achieving that through the back door.

When enacted, decriminalisation will take place in Northern Ireland, but nowhere else in Europe.

Abortion will still be criminalised under certain circumstances in Britain and elsewhere. This is necessary to protect the unborn child.

The criminal law is used in all sorts of ways to protect both human and animal life and to enforce civilised standards. In general, most local people who support a change in the abortion law desire minimal changes and do not want decriminalisation. But, under this legislation, with decriminalisation there will be no legal protection whatsoever for the unborn baby.

Good is always undermined when good people stand on the sidelines without intervening. The right to life is the very foundation of human rights. As the rights of the unborn are undermined, so we will gradually undermine other rights, including the right of the seriously ill and the aged to live.

We see that happening before our very eyes in Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and Canada. Thus far we have prevented regressive anti-human rights law taking root here and resisted this erosion of true human rights.

It may not be the fashionable view in London or Dublin, but it is a truthful position with moral integrity.

Abortion is not human and is not right.

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