Campaigners, unionists amongst them, gathered at Stormont on Saturday in order to protest Diane Abbot’s proposed amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which would extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. That’s correct, unionists (self-described) were protesting against clear legislation on termination of pregnancies, which would afford women in Northern Ireland the same access to an NHS service, which they enjoy throughout the rest of the United Kingdom.
To add a further layer of irony, Jeffrey Donaldson and other unionists, argue that it is wrong for Westminster to legislate on this issue, which should be devolved to the Stormont Assembly. Indeed Donaldson warned that imposing the British position on Northern Ireland could precipitate a constitutional crisis and the collapse of power sharing institutions. Abortion is a justice matter, which means, well …to argue that policy should only be decided in Northern Ireland, is to insist that policing and justice should be devolved.
So basically, a rough outline of Donaldson’s stance – devolve justice to Northern Ireland or there will be a constitutional crisis and we might not allow power-sharing to function. Eerily familiar you might agree.
The argument has been made that a clear majority of Northern Ireland’s people do not approve of abortion. Frankly it is a non sequitur to therefore contend that women should be forced to seek terminations in England, Scotland or Wales. Nobody who disapproves of abortion will be required to have one. Extending the legislation will simply allow women, who are already going through an extraordinarily traumatic experience, to mitigate the expense and disruption which that experience additionally visits upon their lives.