Carla Lockhart, who is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, said:
“This is a bad decision by the Secretary of State and a bad day for Northern Ireland.
It sends a terrible signal about how much value we place on life. For the last two years we have stood shoulder to shoulder in trying to protect the vulnerable from covid-19 and sustain life and yet this legislation will make Northern Ireland one of the most dangerous places in Europe to be a child in the womb especially if that little baby has a disability.
We are a Pro-Life party and if and when Stormont returns, the DUP and those elected representatives who cherish life, will work night and day to bring back life-affirming laws. We will champion greater support services for women in crisis or unexpected pregnancy and continue to take a Pro-Life stand in the Northern Ireland Assembly and at Westminster.
Until 2019 Northern Ireland had some of the strongest protections for the unborn in the United Kingdom and across Europe. Sadly, Westminster, in a free vote for MPs, imposed the UK’s most liberal abortion regime on Northern Ireland despite the Assembly voting to express its opposition. The DUP voted against this at Westminster.
By granting accelerated passage to this life ending legislation, the Secretary of State shows his contempt for the right to life of the helpless, unborn child, but also devolution settlement as this is very clearly a devolved matter.
This is a deeply divided issue in Northern Ireland with over 70% of respondents to the consultation on these laws opposing the liberalisation. When the NI Assembly was sitting under the last mandate there was no consensus reached on this issue. It is incredible that simply because agreement has yet to be found on these highly emotive matters, that the Secretary of State takes upon himself to legislate his view upon the people of Northern Ireland. In doing so, he sends a very clear message in relation to his own priorities, but also his lack of respect for elected representatives in Northern Ireland, and those who elect them.
It is not lost on people that in their haste to facilitate abortion they will accelerate legislation through the House of Commons, yet in terms of accelerating legislation to remove the Irish Sea Border that would see a return of the devolved institutions, the Government adopts a more laissez-faire approach, with promises of intent for the future.”