UK abortion move attack on peace process – Church

UK abortion move attack on peace process – Church Health Minister Robin Swan. Photo: PA Wire

The northern bishops have accused the British government of showing a “reckless disregard” for the region’s cross-community power-sharing government over plans to impose abortion legislation. The Westminster government has announced that it is to give the Secretary of State new powers to compel the locally-elected parliament to implement abortion laws.

In March 2020, when the assembly was not meeting due to tensions in the five-party coalition, parliament in London acted to legalise terminations in the region.


However, when a fresh agreement was reached and local devolution restored, the commission of the services was stalled with Health Minister Robin Swan unwilling to act insisting it was undemocratic and against the wishes of the majority of people in the North.

In a statement, the bishops described the move as “the latest in a line of unilateral interventions by the current Westminster government to portray a reckless disregard for the fragile checks and balances of the international peace settlement between these islands.”


“Such a development should be a matter of grave concern for anyone who upholds the principle of devolution at the heart of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement,” the bishops said.

The bishops say they are “deeply concerned” that the British government now “intends to bypass the NI Assembly to force the Minister for Health here to commission some of the most extreme and liberal abortion services on these islands”.

The Church leaders insist that: “What Westminster seeks to impose, against the clear will of a majority of people here, is a law which blatantly undermines the right to life of unborn children and promotes an abhorrent and indefensible prejudice against persons with disabilities, even before they are born.”

They call upon locally-elected politicians to “speak out against the extreme and profoundly discriminatory nature of these abortion regulations, which the Secretary of State seeks to impose over their heads.”


“We ask you, as our locally-elected representatives, not to meekly acquiesce in this effort to bypass internationally agreed devolved structures. We appeal to you to publicly defend the rights of all children in the womb to be treated equally and to have their right and that of their mothers to love, care and protection by our society respected and upheld,” the statement adds.