Some See Abortion Move as England Forcing Its Values upon NI: MP

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), October 23, 2017 | Go to article overview

Some See Abortion Move as England Forcing Its Values upon NI: MP


Pro-life figures have hit out after the Tory government unveiled details of how it intends to cater for Northern Irish women having publicly-funded abortions in England.

The government said a single hotline for booking abortion appointments for Northern Irish women will be set up by the end of the year, and made clear that certain women who opt to get terminations will have their travel costs paid for, as well as the procedure itself.

Campaign group Right to Life dubbed it an "anti-democratic disgrace", whilst Christian Action, Research and Education said the government "should not overstretch its reach -- it does not have a mandate to intervene in Northern Ireland".

Meanwhile, DUP MP Gregory Campbell said many people will see it as a the Tory Party trying to "force particular moral values from England on Northern Ireland" -- though he added he was "not suggesting this was the case" himself.

Despite its pact with the pro-life DUP, the government had revealed a plan to fully subsidise abortions for Northern Irish women who travel to England back in June, and Monday's announcement saw it make clear some of the details of the proposals.

It came ahead of a major court hearing on Tuesday in London, which centres on the Human Rights Commission's argument that the Province's stricter abortion rules clash with human rights law.

Speaking of the fresh details of the plan to subsidise Northern Irish women having abortions in England, Gregory Campbell said pro-life campaigners "would probably strongly contend that this is an attempt to try and add pressure to get the '67 Act implemented in Northern Ireland".

The 1967 Abortion Act -- which became law 50 years ago this Friday -- liberalised the law in the UK, but does not apply to Northern Ireland.

However, Mr Campbell went on to say: "I'm not saying that I would particularly see it like that, but there'd be many who would." He suggested time will tell if that is the case.

At the time of the DUP-Tory pact he said media coverage "insinuated the Conservatives need to be careful because the DUP could be trying to force 'our moral values', as they described them, on Conservatives in England".

He added: "Our response to that was we weren't trying to do that.

"And we just hoped the reverse wouldn't be the case -- there wouldn't be someone in Great Britain in the Conservative Party trying to force particular moral values from England on Northern Ireland. …

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