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From victory to betrayal: a dark day for Northern Ireland's babies

29 June 2017


John Smeaton: Innocent unborn babies are being treated treacherously by this Government which has chosen death over life in an effort to save their skin

It's been a day of turbulent political events - with both positive and tragic consequences for the unborn babies of Northern Ireland. 

This morning, the Court of Appeal in Belfast ruled that Northern Ireland's abortion laws do not breach human rights, in a significant victory for the pro-life movement. However, this same day has seen the Government back down in the face of pressure from an amendment tabled by mostly Labour MPs to the Queen's speech, and pledge to fund abortion for Northern Irish women in England. 

Victory in the Courts

Three judges found unanimously that Northern Ireland’s laws, which prohibit abortion, are not incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The decision overturns a 2015 High Court judgement which stated that unborn children diagnosed with a serious disability or conceived in sexual crime did not deserve the legal protection provided to other children. After the ruling, Liam Gibson, the development officer for SPUC in Northern Ireland, said:

"This case was an attempt to introduce a lethal form of discrimination and a direct assault on the rights of all unborn children judged to be imperfect. The Court has recognised that there is no right to abortion within the European Convention and that matters of such huge moral, legal and social implications should be dealt with by the legislature and not by judges. They said that despite the criticisms of the law in Northern Ireland it provided a degree of certainty and accountability. They said that those who wanted a change in the law failed to show why disabled children did not deserve the same rights as other children."

Betrayal in Westminster

This morning, the Speaker of the House of Commons selected an amendment put forward by Labour MP Stella Creasy, and signed by more than 50 MPs, calling for women from Northern Ireland to get free abortions on the English NHS. Apparently fearing that rebel Conservative MPs would mean the amendment passed, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a sudden change of position from the government, saying: "...my understanding is the minister for women and equalities either has made or just about to make a statement explaining that she intends to intervene to fund abortions in England for women arriving here from Northern Ireland."

This was shortly followed by a letter from Justine Greening, who announced that the Equalities Department would make funds available for women from Northern Ireland who seek abortions in England. Stella Creasy has now withdrawn her amendment.

Black day for unborn children

Responding to the news, SPUC's CEO John Smeaton said: “This is a black day for unborn children, for mothers and for democracy. It’s a great day for the abortion industry – which cares nothing about unborn children and for the welfare of women...This is a betrayal on the grandest scale imaginable.  Innocent unborn babies are being treated treacherously by this Government which has chosen death over life in an effort to save their skin...It is nothing less than lethal meddling in affairs which do not concern it designed to thwart the political will of the people of Northern Ireland at the expense of the unborn who don’t seem to matter at all to our political masters." 

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Comments (8)
  • Anne taylor

    29 June 2017, 8:24pm

    A very sad day for our unborn Brothers and Sisters The majority of the people in N I were against this amendment mostly because of the moral issue , being a Christian country for centuries

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  • Judith Ronane

    30 June 2017, 2:38pm

    Disgraceful

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  • Eileen Auckram

    1 July 2017, 8:21am

    What a sad day for Northern Ireland. It is indeed a black day for the unborn babies.

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  • Veronica Lowe

    1 July 2017, 3:43pm

    I rang Any Answers to make the point that not everyone in Great Britain (as opposed to UK) disagrees with the DUP on abortion and the redefinition of marriage. Someone rang back almost immediately and asked if I belonged to any anti abortion campaign group. I said I am a member of SPUC. I pointed out that any mother seeing her first ultrasound is in no doubt that this is a baby.
    They did not ring me back, yet interviewed at length a woman on her way to a gay rights rally in, I think she said, Belfast.

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  • kevin riley

    1 July 2017, 10:13pm

    FROM KEVIN S RILEY SOLICITOR,

    DISPLAYED HYPOCRISY -BOTH INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE

    I am 100% with you on this issue - not only so far as the Government and Conservative party as a whole is concerned..

    The way they have behaved on this issue shows how shallow are their professed pro life beliefs (AND INDEED THEIR PROFESSED BELIEF IN THE RULE OF LAW - SEE BELOW.).

    The above following on from their knowledge that the restraints contained in the Abortion Act itself have been ignored by all tax payer funded abortion providers (including BPAS and Marie Stopes) since 2013.

    The above as a result of the Conservative Governments refusal to take the constitutionally required action to make a statutory interpretation application to remove the "interpretation" issue that the Government knows has been preventing the DPP from enforcing the Rule Of Law relating to abortions, since 2013..

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  • kevin riley

    1 July 2017, 10:16pm

    There are now 100,000 people alive in Northern Ireland who would be dead if Britain’s abortion laws had applied

    “A massive victory”. That’s how one national newspaper described yesterday’s decision by the government to pay £1400 to pregnant women to travel from Northern Ireland to Britain to end the life of their unborn child. If this is a victory, what constitutes a defeat?

    Every abortion is a tragedy – a tragedy for a child whose life is taken and a tragedy for the mother who may have been persuaded that she has no choice but to have an abortion.

    There are now 100,000 people alive in Northern Ireland who would be dead if Britain’s abortion laws had applied. So who has proved the more worthy champion of the supreme human right – the very right to life itself? Is it those whose legislation 50 years ago signed a death warrant for 8 million British babies, or those Northern Irish whose faithfulness saved the lives of 100,000?

    The “victorious” narrative is based on the belief that abortion is a compassionate lesser of two evils. But there is nothing compassionate about scraping a child out of a mother’s womb. There is nothing compassionate about failing to provide help and support for a woman in crisis and offering her, instead, a ticket to a private clinic rather than giving care and support to her and her child.

    When Northern Irish women arrive in England, most will be sent to the private clinics funded by the NHS, where around 600 abortions take place every day, including multiple abortions (some have had as many as eight).

    Some of these are clinics are where investigative journalists discovered functionaries willing to abort little girls simply because of their gender.

    Some of the clinics to which they will go will be named after Marie Stopes, who famously said that no society “should allow the diseased, the racially-negligent, the careless, the feeble-minded, the very lowest and worst members of the community to produce innumerable tens of thousands of warped and inferior infants”.

    Stopes probably had in mind, among others, the Irish. So did those other luminaries, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, who warned that “children are being freely born to the Irish Roman Catholics and the Polish, Russian and German Jews, the thriftless and irresponsible. . . This can hardly result in anything but national deterioration . . . or this country falling to the Irish and the Jews.”

    There was, of course, an echo of this unadulterated prejudice to be heard in the attacks on the Northern Irish this week.

    For those Northern Irish women who have their abortions in an NHS hospital, let them also recall the brave Scottish midwives who lost their hospital jobs after refusing to help take the lives of their second patient – the baby – and reflect on what those midwives knew and believe. They hold, as science does, that life begins at conception.

    They know that an unborn child can feel pain and be caused great distress. They know that there is nothing compassionate about taking a life – it’s to confuse care and killing. They know that we have a duty of care to a mother and her child. It can never be reduced to a choice.

    I have never been able to understand those able to dispense with the inconvenient yet incontestable truth that these babies are human lives – each unique and infinitely valuable. Barely a year passes without a major new discovery about how little difference there is between children in their mother’s womb and those at the breast. Yet we are told repeatedly that all of this is irrelevant. Patently, this is a preposterous position that no civilised society should support.

    Three extraordinary women who at various times were my guests at Westminster spelt out the truth that every abortion carries untold consequences.

    The late Norma McCorvey, who as “Jane Roe” was the test case that led to abortion in the US, gave me copies of 1,000 affidavits that she had collected from post-abortive women. These sworn statements make for harrowing reading. She said: “This has long ceased to be a feminist issue about a woman’s right to choose.”

    Dr Alveda King (niece of Martin Luther King), who had three abortions which she now deeply regrets, told me: “In our age the greatest human rights struggle, following in the footsteps of Wilberforce and my uncle’s civil rights movement, is the battle today for the unborn.”

    St Mother Teresa of Calcutta told me and other parliamentarians: “The greatest destroyer of peace in the world today is abortion.”

    We must be positively pro-life, from the womb to the tomb, for the mother and the child, for the sick and the dying, for good medicine, ethical science, just laws. This is a daunting challenge but our world desperately needs to rediscover the beauty and mystery of life and to uphold a culture of life in place of our contemporary culture of death. Better, surely, than a ticket to yet another death in a British abortion clinic?

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  • Kevin Mahoney

    1 July 2017, 11:15pm

    Is this the kind of decision that could be challenged by judicial review?

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  • David Prentis

    6 July 2017, 8:20pm

    The DUP members of parliament could make the continuation of the coalition with the Conservative Party dependent on the reversal of this decision.

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