Brandon Lewis, the Secretary of State, is about to lay regulations in Parliament, to directly impose the commissioning of abortion services on our own Department of Health. In this way, the UK parliament would legally compel Health Minister Robin Swann, to set up commissioned abortion services, regardless of the views of the Assembly, or the Executive.
By doing so, Lewis is prioritising the provision of abortion above other health services, such as outstanding cancer treatments, postponed because of the need to deal with the pandemic.
Worse still he is making a mockery of the devolution settlement.
As Robin Swann has repeatedly pointed out, the provision of abortion is a cross-cutting, controversial issue that requires the agreement of our devolved Executive. As on other issues, the Executive has not reached agreement on this contentious matter.
Opposing this threatened move, the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson reacted strongly: "Any move by an NIO minister to legislate over the head of the Executive would raise serious questions about when and in what areas the Government can make interventions in a devolved administration."
Donaldson is right to raise the crucial political issue of the right and responsibility of the devolved institutions to deal exclusively with this matter, as they deem appropriate.
Such a move by Westminster against the Scottish parliament would have caused a political earthquake.
This new political row, is not just about the rights and wrongs of abortion, but goes to the very heart of the devolved settlement.
Under that settlement, it is up to the Assembly to legislate exclusively in a wide range of matters, including health and abortion.
If this proposed intervention by the SOS is permitted, then a dangerous precedent is set, whereby the UK Government can legislate directly on devolved matters, whenever it likes.
This move would undermine the powers of the Assembly and would be in contempt of the Good Friday Agreement.
That's why Colum Eastwood, the SDLP leader, is misguided in justifying the British Government's move on commissioning and letting them off the hook.
Disrespecting the SDLP's long-standing opposition to abortion, he declared: "Parties have the opportunities to shape the commissioning of services in line with our legal obligations and according with the needs of local people, or they can wait for the British Government to intervene again. Ducking difficult issues should no longer be an option."
In other words, he is saying, if Stormont can't agree on abortion, the British have every right to impose it by way of legislation, and furthermore in its legislative aftermath, they can legally direct a Stormont minister to carry out abortion commissioning services, even where there is no political consensus within the devolved Executive.
What would he say if Lewis intended to direct the imposition of water charges on householders here?
His remarks are in stark contrast to the SDLP Minister for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon, who recently quite rightly warned Boris Johnson against a power-grab against the devolved institutions.
She said: "The British Government can't just decide to have London-imposed decision-making."
Even the UUP leader, Steve Aiken, who personally is in favour of pro-choice, recognises the political difficulties inherent in this commissioning issue. He said, that any unilateral move by Robin Swann on abortion services would breach the ministerial code.
A contrary argument has been put forward by the Alliance Party MLA, Paula Bradshaw, who takes the incorrect view that the implementation of commissioning services for abortion is a human rights matter, transcending devolution.
This is not correct. In 2019, the British Parliament, on its own initiative, during its last few months, voted to impose on Northern Ireland, the extreme abortion recommendations of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Committee.
CEDAW is a UN Convention just like other Conventions, to which the British Government is a signatory. CEDAW does not however, have any direct legal effect in Britain, or here. It can report and recommend actions, but mere recommendations, do not translate to binding international human rights obligations.
It is also noteworthy, that those like Amnesty International, who enthusiastically supported the implementation of CEDAW, ignore the application of the UN Convention on the Disabled, here.
Unlike CEDAW, this UN Convention has direct legal application to any legislation proposed in our Assembly, but yet it is ignored by pro-abortionists in the debate about the abortion of seriously disabled babies beyond the 24-week limit, which was recently debated in the Assembly.
The UN Committee on the Disabled, has made repeated criticisms, that current British abortion legislation unlawfully discriminates against seriously disabled unborn babies, beyond 24 weeks, in that it permits them to be legally aborted.
In contrast, an unborn able-bodied baby enjoys full protection from abortion beyond 24 weeks.
Happily, the Assembly chose to protect unborn disabled babies, by supporting Paul Givan's Bill.