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Stella Creasy attempts to hijack domestic abuse bill to push extreme abortion agenda

30 January 2019

Stella Creasy (r) with fellow abortion campaigner Diana Johnson.

"Let us call this out for what it is: part of an orchestrated campaign to alter abortion laws in Northern Ireland and here."

Following her attempts last year to hijack a Northern Ireland bill last year in order to impose abortion on the province, Labour MP Stella Creasy has continued her crusade to make extreme abortion reforms - this time through a bill aimed at tackling domestic violence.

DV not DUP

The Draft Domestic Abuse Bill - a flagship piece of Government legislation - was published last week. Within a few days, Ms Creasy, the MP for Walthamstow, was complaining in the press that the Government had "restricted" the scope of the bill to prevent her making an amendment that would decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland (and, by extension, England and Wales as well). She claimed that "this government cares more about the DUP than domestic violence. Proof (is that) they’ve restricted scope of Domestic Abuse Bill to try to prevent abortion reform in Northern Ireland."

Today, she was given leave to bring an "urgent question" in the House of Commons on the matter, where, rather than explaining why a domestic abuse bill would be an appropriate medium to make reforms of abortion law, she again accused the Government of changing the scope of the bill to appease the DUP.

A devolved matter

However, as the Minister Victoria Atkins repeatedly explained, the bill applies to England and Wales only, because "the raft of offences that would support prosecutions of domestic abuse, including section 18 GBH and coercive and controlling behaviour, are devolved." She said that she has written to Scotland and Northern Ireland to ask them to consider replicating the legislation in their areas.

Moreover, she said, there had been no change to the scope of the bill in deference to the DUP or anyone else. "Contrary to the suggestion in the hon. Lady’s question, there has been no change in the territorial application of the Bill compared with the proposals in the Government’s consultation published last spring," she said. "That was made clear in the consultation paper and reflects the fact that the subject matter of the draft Bill is devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland."

Orchestrated campaign

Pro-life MP Fiona Bruce made clear what the question was really about. "Let us call this out for what it is: part of an orchestrated campaign to alter abortion laws in Northern Ireland and here, and to replace those laws with extreme proposals for which there is no public appetite whatsoever," she said.

"Does the Minister agree that it is highly inappropriate for such campaigners to hijack the Domestic Abuse Bill in this way, undermining a Bill to support victims of domestic abuse and their families?" she asked. "Does she agree that it is equally inappropriate to interfere in a devolved matter, one that has been devolved for almost 100 years, and set a dangerous constitutional precedent—a precedent of interference that would undermine the Good Friday agreement itself?"

Not the end

The minister agreed that the subject of the bill is tackling domestic abuse, not abortion. The Government's firm line on this, and that the issues dealt with in the bill are devolved, seems to represent a severe setback for Ms Creasy's strident campaign to unleash unrestricted abortion on Northern Ireland. However, this draft bill is being sent to a committee for scrutiny, meaning that attempts to amend the legislation are likely to continue. Given that Ms Creasy and her allies are prepared to hijack a domestic abuse bill to further their agenda, we can expect to see repeated efforts to extend abortion as this bill progresses. 

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