Pro-abortion forces line up to push their agenda in the new parliament
13 June 2017
Diana Johnson MP has made it clear she intends to continue pushing for decriminalisation, ignoring the lack of public support.
Campaigners are not hiding the fact that they intend to push to force abortion on Northern Ireland, as well as for decriminalisation in England and Wales.
Amid the attacks on the proposed deal between the minority Conservative Government and the pro-life DUP MPs, anti-life forces have been lining up to push for more abortion in the new Parliament.
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Diana Johnson, who was re-elected to Parliament last Thursday, has made it clear that she intends to bring back the bill she introduced in March of this year to remove abortion from the criminal law - part of a wider agenda to allow abortion up to birth, for any reason.
"That opportunity to raise [abortion decriminalisation] for 10 minutes highlighted that 50 years on, it’s absolutely the right thing to do to review the 1967 act," Johnson told Buzzfeed. "I don’t think a lot of MPs fully understood the background was the criminalisation of women and doctors and nurses. I don’t think they knew that it was the 1861 act that governs this whole area."
In line with the public?
A letter from BPAS and other abortion advocacy groups also restated their commitment to decriminalisation, saying: "50 years since the Abortion Act was passed, there is clearly an appetite to extend, not restrict, reproductive rights."
They all ignored the results of a recent ComRes survey, which revealed that the public actually favours greater restrictions on abortion.
Amnesty targets Northern Ireland's babies
Determination to extend abortion to Northern Ireland has also been exposed in the light of the new significance of the DUP. Amnesty International issued a press release today calling on the Government to commit to abortion reform in Northern Ireland, ahead of a meeting today between Prime Minister Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster. Grainne Teggart, Campaigns Manager for Amnesty International said: "The UK Government has a responsibility to deliver abortion rights for women in Northern Ireland. A failure to do so would be a cruel betrayal of women."
Amnesty criticised the DUP, which "has previously blocked attempts to reform the region’s abortion laws, which date back to 1861 and have been found to breach women's rights."
The DUP, who have consistently defended the rights of the unborn in Northern Ireland, also came under attack from BPAS, who called their stance "extremist". Diana Johnson similarly denounced the party, complaining that when she brought forward her bill, the "DUP all trooped through the lobby to vote against [it]". "I am just very concerned that if the DUP are given additional time in parliament – which I would assume would be part of the deal – for them to promote their particular issues, that this could be one of them," she said.
She also told Buzzfeed that "Labour stood by its manifesto pledge to work with Northern Ireland's devolved government to loosen the country's abortion law."
Care about women? Oppose decriminalisation
Antonia Tully, SPUC's Campaigns Director, commented in the aftermath of the election results: "Pro-abortion MPs are pushing for decriminalisation of abortion because they don't care about the impact of abortion on women or refuse to look at what that impact is. We really do care that women who have an abortion experience mental health problems 30% more often compared with women who give birth. It matters to us that a study has shown that suicide is approximately six times greater after an abortion than after childbirth.
"We are fighting the decriminalisation of abortion every inch of the way. In October 2017 SPUC is holding a mass constituency-based lobby of MPs. We are aiming for every MP in the country to hear first hand of the dangers to women and babies of decriminalising abortion. We want the firm commitment of MPs to oppose any moves to decriminalise abortion."