Precious Life and Youth for Life NI welcome PM Theresa May’s statement that she “does not support the repealing” of our pro-life laws in Northern Ireland

Precious Life and Youth for Life NI welcome Prime Minister Theresa May’s response to a constituent who raised concerns over Labour MP Diana Johnson’s pro-abortion ‘decriminalisation’ bill. Mrs May made it very clear that she “does not support the repealing” of our life-saving laws in Northern Ireland that safeguard women and their unborn babies.

A constituent of Mrs May wrote to her, as someone involved in counselling post-abortive women, raising concerns about the Labour MP's Ten Minute Rule bill which passed its first reading last month, and is listed for a second reading today.

Writing as MP for Maidenhead, Mrs May replied: "I do have concerns about the points raised in Diana Johnson’s Ten Minute Rule Bill. I do not support the repealing of sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 for several reasons.  Primarily, repealing those two sections does not solve the issue of abortion in NI, as without any new provisions it offers no safeguards for women and would impact on England and Wales, as well as Northern Ireland."

She continues: "The 1967 Abortion Act provides defences against the criminal law offences in the 1861 Act.  If these offences were removed then abortion would in effect be decriminalised and no legal framework would be in place, including no gestational time limits. A new legal framework would be needed to replace those provisions, which is rightly a devolved matter which locally accountable politicians in NI should have the opportunity to debate and consider.”

Mrs May went on to say, "The measures in the Bill also go a lot further than the current debate in NI, so it is important legislation is not imposed on NI and we allow local politicians the opportunity to represent the views of the people of NI."

Mrs May concluded, "It is the Government’s priority to restore devolved government at the earliest opportunity." Abortion is a devolved issue in NI and thus it is for the locally elected politicians in NI to decide on the issue of abortion. NI is the most recent part of the UK to vote on this issue – as recently as 2016 our elected politicians voted protect our pro-life laws! Johnson’s proposed bill calling for the full ‘decriminalisation’ of abortion in the UK is a euphemism for the full legalisation of abortion. It would mean abortion throughout the whole 9 months, up to and including the moment of birth.  

Precious Life have been active for over 21 years and from our first-hand experience we can very clearly state that there is no demand on the ground for a change to our pro-life laws. Over 300,000 people have signed Precious Life’s campaign petitions over recent years expressing their pro-life viewpoint. Our most recent Lobby for Life petition postcards Campaign is ongoing and thousands of people from all over NI have already signed these petitions calling for the Westminster Government to respect devolution and our democratic process.

Youth for Life NI, a project of Precious Life, are actively on the streets of NI every week and collect thousands of petitions each week.

The full letter can be viewed via the link below from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC):

https://www.spuc.org.uk/~/media/Files/PM-Theresa-May-Letter.ashx?la=en

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