Northern Ireland Assembly rejects abortion
20 June 2000
Northern Ireland Assembly rejects abortion Westminster, 20 June 2000--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) today welcomed the rejection by the Northern Ireland Assembly of any move to introduce liberal abortion in the province. Speaking after this afternoon's debate, Mrs Betty Gibson, chairwoman of SPUC Northern Ireland, said: "There have been huge advances in medical science since abortion was liberalised in Britain in 1967. We now know more than ever before about the life of the child in the womb. "The people of Northern Ireland have seen what liberal abortion has done to Britain, where more than 500 children are killed every day and countless women are damaged physically and emotionally by the abortion process. "The overwhelming rejection of liberal abortion by the Assembly sends a clear message to the pro-abortionists in the House of Commons and in Belfast-based government bodies such as the Human Rights Commission-they will not succeed in imposing abortion on demand on the people here. "It will also show the pro-abortion lobby in the Irish Republic that they cannot use Northern Ireland as an excuse to try to undermine the ban that the Irish people voted to enshrine in their constitution. "In the Assembly, cross-party opposition to abortion on demand was so overwhelming that it was un-necessary to go to a count. The people and their elected representatives are united against abortion. I wholeheartedly thank the MLAs, and in particular Mr Jim Wells who proposed the motion. "Those who seek what they call a clarification in the law are invariably interested in making abortion widely available. The law in the province is quite clear. Only if the mother's life is in direct danger may the baby's life be taken, and such instances are very few and far between. "There is no need to change a law which has the wholehearted support of the great majority of Northern Ireland's people." Authority to legislate on abortion has not been delegated from London to the assembly. Seventy-nine of the 108 assembly members originally signed the petition in support of the motion by Mr Wells (Democratic Unionist) which stated: "That this House defends the right to life of the unborn child and opposes any change in the law governing abortion in Northern Ireland." Speakers in the debate described the process of human development in the womb. In particular it was pointed out that an unborn child's heart started to beat within a month of conception. At one British hospital, nearly three quarters of very premature babies had survived, all of them of an age at which they might have been legally aborted. Members also spoke about the horrific ways in which babies were aborted and described the often serious effects on the mother's physical and mental health. It was untrue to assert that abortion was safe or no more dangerous than child-birth. "Back-street" abortion, the classic pro-abortion myth, is virtually unknown in Northern Ireland. Proponents of the 1967 Abortion Act had spoken in minimalist terms about the circumstances in which abortion would permitted. Experience had shown, however, that abortion was effectively available on demand in Britain. MLAs made it clear that the people of Northern Ireland, Protestant and Catholic, wanted none of that.