Editors note: By way of explanation, this situation has come about due to the Northern Ireland Parliament not having sat for more than 2 years due to internal political divisions and Northern Island being ruled from Westminster whose decisions have resulted in the legalisation of abortion and same sex marriage in Northern Ireland against the believed will of the people. The Northern Island Parliament resumed sitting in January 2020 but it is unclear how this will affect the passing of the abortion and same-sex marriage legislation by Westminster.
A final attempt to stop abortion law changes in Northern Ireland has failed. Unionist parties, who oppose the upcoming liberalisation, triggered the assembly’s recall last month with a petition. But politicians were told the assembly could not do any business until a speaker was elected with cross-community backing. It was the first time the Assembly had sat in Northern Ireland (NI) for over two years. New regulations to govern the provision of abortion will not be ready until the end of March 2020 which means there will be a gap period, where abortion will be unregulated.
Evangelical Alliance’s Northern Ireland’s director, Peter Lynas said that the majority of people in Northern Ireland did not want abortion to become legalised and wanted to “honour the unborn child” by keeping abortion illegal in Northern Ireland. Lynas said “these changes going through are a tragedy.” The new laws were introduced in Northern Ireland after MPs and peers voted for them at Westminster in England. Christian charity, CARE’s chief executive, Nola Leach said: “This is a tragic day because the will of the people has been by-passed by MPs and Peers at Westminster and there will be long-term consequences of doing so. The people of Northern Ireland deserve better.”
Rt Rev Dr William Henry, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said: “It has always been the position of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland that decisions on sensitive issues such as abortion and same sex marriage should remain the responsibility of our locally elected MLAs. “We deeply regret that the consequence of the continued political stalemate in Northern Ireland has been the introduction of an abortion regime far beyond what people may imagine. Our focus now turns to seeking to reverse this legislation. We continue to pray for our elected representatives and will engage with them in the coming weeks over the impending legislative changes.”
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