Upper Bann DUP MP Carla Lockhart has said abortion laws should be a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive. Mrs Lockhart was responding to the Secretary of State’s decision to direct the Department of Health to commission abortion services in Northern Ireland by March 2022.
Carla Lockhart said:
“The purpose of devolution is to legislate on issues that fall within its competence. Abortion is one such issue. Whilst it is a matter that divides opinion and on which strongly held views exist, it is important that local politicians are given the time and space to find consensus that reflects local public opinion on this issue.
The Government’s insistence on interfering on devolved issues undermines the institutions. Indeed, cynically some local parties know that by failing to engage constructively to find that local agreement, that the Government will deliver their objectives by March 2022 at the latest. What incentive have they now to give any regard to the pro-life views held by hundreds of thousands of people in Northern Ireland?
Despite the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID pandemic, the Secretary of State believes the Department of Health should have prioritised the commissioning of abortion services. This is the same Government that has cited the pandemic as an explanation for inaction across a range of policy areas within their competence. Their double standards are plain for all to see. Indeed, the fact that the letter for the NIO fails to mention the life of the unborn baby reflects their partisan stance on this deeply emotive issue.
What we have in this statement from the Secretary of State is a further example of a government acting with no respect to the local electorate and locally elected politicians. The DUP stand ready to find a locally agreed way forward. We urge all parties who sit with us in the Northern Ireland Executive to share this intent.”