Catholic Arena

Abortion’s popularity is a bit like the popularity of Communism.

Well, firstly abortion’s popularity came from Communism in terms of being spread throughout the world, it was first legalised after the Revolution in Russia in 1917.

But in another sense it contains two elements common to abortion. One is that it spreads with a Domino Effect if not opposed. The USA’s containment policy on Communism has not been applied by any nation to abortion, in fact the USA and the UK have been the greatest agents of applying an inverse of this, trying to convince countries without abortion to adopt it.

The other aspect is that it proposes a material universe where the unborn child has no meaning, can be mistreated as poorly as one wants to. Yet the material universe it proposes ascribes a strange sense of meaning to the agents of the abortion, the father, mother and abortionist, an unholy trinity in an unholy Sacrament.

Regarding abortion spreading from country to country, many have forgotten that the Referendum to Remove the Right to Life in 2018 in Ireland was not a case of Irish people waking up one day and deciding that they wanted abortion, it came after decades of Britain aborting tens of thousands of Irish babies. It came after decades of British media operating virtually all media outlets in Ireland, from newspapers to tv stations, with even State Broadcaster RTE broadcasting mostly British produced tv, with many soaps normalising or trivialising abortion. There was also the influence of American television, the impact of emigration to aborto normative societies like Britain, Australia and the United States and concerted efforts by the Irish government and the European Union to reduce native birth rates, which they finally achieved in the past 5 years with the help of abortion, reducing them by 25%.

Last year, when Stormont was dissolved, Westminster took it upon itself to pass laws that imposed Same Sex Marriage and Abortion on Northern Ireland.

The passage of the laws marked the first time that Sinn Fein openly supported Westminster having authority over Northern Ireland. The self proclaimed ‘Catholics’ ‘Republicans’ and sometimes ‘Nationalists’ have been the biggest supporters of this effort by Westminster to show that Northern Ireland is theirs and that they will spread abortion to it if needs be. This will have terrible consequences. Some estimates predict that abortion levels in the North could rise quickly to over 6,000 per year.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has been given new powers to implement these laws. In a statement this week he said:

Yesterday the Minister of State made the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021 which are today being laid before Parliament. The Regulations have been made because women and girls in Northern Ireland are still unable to access high-quality abortion and post-abortion care in Northern Ireland.

The Regulations have been made to ensure, as required by the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019, that all of the recommendations in paragraphs 85 and 86 of the 2018 UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) report are implemented in Northern Ireland.

We are disappointed with the continuing failure to commission abortion services that are consistent with the Regulations we made almost a year ago. After a year of engaging to see positive progress made, with no success, the legal duties included in section 9 of the NIEF Act are such that I have to act now.

The Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021 laid in Parliament today give me a power to direct Northern Ireland Ministers and, departments or relevant agencies to implement all of the recommendations in paragraphs 85 and 86 of the CEDAW report, consistent with the conditions set out in the Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No.2) Regulations 2020.

We do not take this step lightly. However, the devolution settlement does not absolve us of our responsibility to uphold the rights of women and girls. Our strong preference remains for the Northern Ireland Executive to take responsibility itself for upholding these rights.

It has always been our expectation and preference that the Department of Health would drive forward the commissioning of abortion services. The approach we took was to put in place the legal framework for how abortion services could be accessed and provided, consistent with our legal duties. However, it is crucial that abortion, as a healthcare service, is delivered and overseen locally by the Department of Health and relevant health bodies with the relevant legal powers, policy and operational expertise to do so. This ensures that abortion can be delivered in a sustainable way, and become embedded into the health and social care system in Northern Ireland in the longterm.

In March 2020, I wrote to the relevant Northern Ireland Ministers to achieve this, by asking that they work to ensure the implementation of all of the recommendations under paragraphs 85 and 86 of the CEDAW Report. We had anticipated this would be acted upon at the earliest opportunity.

Over this past year the Northern Ireland Office has continued to work closely with the Department of Health, and other relevant Northern Ireland departments, trying to progress this work. I, together with the Minister of State, have continued to engage through political channels to encourage positive progress by the devolved administration.

However, almost one year later, women and girls are still unable to access high-quality abortion and post-abortion care locally in Northern Ireland in all of the circumstances in which they are entitled to under the 2020 Regulations.

We understand that managing the Covid-19 response has been an immense challenge, and has placed the Health and Social Care system in Northern Ireland under considerable pressure.

I put on record my thanks to the medical professionals who have ensured that women and girls have had some local access to abortion services in Northern Ireland to date, and the organisations that have supported this work, particularly in the current circumstances and wider strains on the health system. This includes the work that Informing Choices Northern Ireland have taken forward on the central access point and counselling service for women and girls since April last year.

However, more needs to be done with respect to formally commissioning abortion services and supporting the rights of women and girls in accessing safe local services and relevant support measures; as well as putting in place clear guidance for medical professionals.

While Parliament considers the Regulations, we will continue to engage with the Minister of Health and the Executive to try and find a way forward over the coming weeks before any direction is given.

We have used every opportunity and avenue to encourage progress and offer our support over the past year so we are disappointed that we have reached this impasse. We take this step now, to further demonstrate our commitment to ensuring women and girls can safely access abortion services in Northern Ireland.

The ‘high quality’ abortion echoes claims in the South from 2018 that Ireland’s abortion services would be the ‘envy’ of the world.

Mary Lou McDonald has given support for these extra powers for Westminster over Northern Ireland.

Remarkably, Protestant parties such as the DUP have been the ones opposing Westminster’s overreach on abortion into Northern Ireland. Their leader Jeffrey Donaldson has said that it would be ‘a very serious breach of the devolution settlement’.

In a vote last week, the Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill passed its second stage, aiming to protect disabled children from abortion. Sinn Fein refused to vote to allow for those babies to be protected.

In another incident recently, prolifers hoping to help women at a vigil near an abortion clinic were harassed by ‘Republicans’ also supporting Westminster’s abortion decree. Sinn Fein have decided to come down hard against these vigils, claiming that ‘women and children run the gauntlet’ while attending ‘clinics’ where abortions are performed.

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