Northern Ireland Political Parties United Against Pro-Abortion Amendment

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 12, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Northern Ireland Political Parties United Against Pro-Abortion Amendment

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 12
, 2008

Belfast, Northern Ireland ( — Leaders of the four major political parties in Northern Ireland have united for the first time on a significant political issue. They are standing together against a proposal in the British parliament to have the Abortion Act extended to Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland has been exempted from the 1967 law that legalized abortions in the rest of Great Britain.

However, some pro-abortion MPs are considering attaching an amendment to extend the law to the pro-human cloning Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that the House of Commons is expected to hold a debate on this week.

The four leaders of the parties in the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly — Dr. Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionists, Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein, Sir. Reg Empey of the Ulster Unionists, and Mark Durkan of the Social Democratic and Labour Party — wrote to members of the British Parliament.

They stated their opposition to any potential amendment and said local legislators in Northern Ireland should continue to have the oversight when it comes to making abortion laws.

Jeffrey Donaldson, chairman of the assembly’s pro-life group, talked with the BBC and said the pro-life caucus of MPs thought their efforts to stop a pro-abortion amendment would be aided if the Northern Ireland officials wrote to Parliament.

"The pro-life group in the assembly thought it would be useful for the four leaders to write to each MP re-stating that position," he said.

"I think it’s a very powerful message we have here, four political leaders coming from very diverse political perspectives but united in their view that we do not want the 1967 Act, with all its implications, imposed on Northern Ireland," he added.

Bernadette Smyth, a representative of the Northern Ireland pro-life group Precious Life, held a press conference on Monday to applaud the NI lawmakers.

"We’re standing on the steps of Stormont to show our support for the leaders of our political parties in their united stand against abortion being imposed from Westminster," she said in a statement to

Smyth pointed to a motion against abortion that the Legislative Assembly unanimously approved in October and petitions from 120,000 people in support of it to prove Northern Ireland residents don’t want legal abortions.

"Westminster must take heed of this clear message being sent out from Northern Ireland — we don’t want the 1967 Act extended," she concluded.

Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland also commented on the letter and said it "reflects that overwhelming view of the Assembly."

"The people of Northern Ireland recognize the right to life of the unborn child – a right affirmed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child," he said. "They are also increasingly concerned by the evidence of the harm abortion does to women."

"It is vitally important that people write to the Prime Minister asking him not to allow the House of Commons to impose the Abortion Act on the Province but let this matter be decided by our elected representatives in the Assembly," he added.

Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland unless the life of the mother is in danger or the continuation of the pregnancy would cause the woman very serious health issues.

Related web sites:
Precious Life –