Abortion moves far from dead

Just the day after Westminster goes off for the long hols, up pops the campaign to extend abortion to Northern Ireland with a quick ambush to keep the issue boiling and NI MPs nerves on edge all summer. Telly pundit and MP Diane Abbot told the BBC’s Today programme (see 8.42) that the cross party group would seek to move an amendment to the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Bill, controversially postponed from last week to the autumn. All this in defiance of Gordon Brown’s efforts to thwart the move and appease NI MPs over the alleged 42 days detention deal, according to this and other accounts.

  • Good news. There’s also a response to the new proposed guidelines at http://www.pcni.org.uk

  • Traditional_Unionist

    does westminster want devolved government in Northern Ireland or not?

    they need to make their minds up

    they can’t one minute demand we have our own devolved government and make threats if it doesnt happen, and then the next try and go over the top of the polictians here and put through laws for this country that neither the politicians nor the people of this country want!

  • willowfield

    does the Assembly want devolved government in Northern Ireland or not?

    they need to make their minds up

    they can’t one minute say it’s not the right time for devolved government and make threats if it does happen, and then the next complain about Westminster putting through laws for this country !

  • Napoleons nose.

    TU thats nannyism for you.

  • Traditional_Unionist

    would we really notice any difference if we shut up stormont and went back to “offical” direct rule?

    I would very much doubt it

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    A (Norn) Irish solution required to the abortion issue ? Well transfer Police and Justice powers.

    It always seemed likely that this issue would be used to put pressure on the DUP on P and J – it obviously suits El Gordo that this proposed amendment has arrived.

    SF will presumably spend the summer blaming the DUP ( if they dont get on with the transfer ) for the possibility of the abortion law being extended in Non Iron.

  • jon

    ” it obviously suits El Gordo that this proposed amendment has arrived”

    Someone didn’t even attempt to understand what’s been happening on this issue before throwing his hat into the ring, eh?

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Jon,

    well he might say that to the DUP – “hey guys what can I do about the quareone Abbot she is a nutter?” but knowing that it is helping to knock the DUP in line with everyone elses position i.e. SF, SDLP, British Govt and the Irish Govt.

  • jon

    Read Eammon McCann’s piece on the matter in the Telegraph from a week or so ago. Should shed some light.

  • The Raven

    This is good news. With a bit of luck, this arcane exclusion will be done away with soon, and slightly over half of our population will have the choice to do what hundreds of women have had to travel to England to do for years.

  • TAFKABO

    How can anyone call themselves a Unionist then demand to be treated not like the UK, but the >Republic of Ireland?

    To all my god fearing orange brethren, if you want to live in a theocratic nanny state, hop on the Belfast to Dublin bus.

  • The Raven

    Are there many Orangemen on this site? Or were you just making a sweeping generalisation there? Just out of interest.

  • put through laws for this country that neither the politicians nor the people of this country want!

    Speak for yourself. Or at least wait until there’s a referendum…which could be awhile.

    thats nannyism for you.

    I’ll take nannyism over fundamentalism any day.

    A (Norn) Irish solution required to the abortion issue ? Well transfer Police and Justice powers.

    The (Norn) Irish solution to abortion is to pretend it doesn’t exist and hope it goes away. If this is left in the hands of the Northern Irish assembly, either the status quo will be maintained for the foreseeable future (while they argue over guidelines) or we’ll end up with a law even more restrictive than in the Republic (if the new proposed guidelines are enacted). Either way, women will the be ones who continue to suffer.

    With a bit of luck, this arcane exclusion will be done away with soon, and slightly over half of our population will have the choice to do what hundreds of women have had to travel to England to do for years.

    Yeah, except it’s more like thousands. Tens of thousands.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    TAFKABO, The Raven,

    As a large majority of British mainlanders, and (probably still a majority of) ROI people believe Northern Unioinsts have far more in common with their fellow islanders and would be well served to stop deluding themselves that they are superior to – and start learning to live with – their ROI neigbours. Next step in this process – transfer of Police and Justice to Irish hands.

  • fair_deal

    TAFKABO

    “How can anyone call themselves a Unionist then demand to be treated not like the UK, but the >Republic of Ireland?”

    Simple really, the Union has three seperate legal systems (NI, Scotland and England and Wales) and while most laws apply across those three systems by no means all do. Devolution has and will continue to increase the degree of variation.

    The Union has never involved complete commonality of law in each of the three systems. Therefore a belief in the Union and a degree of local variation in law are compatible with british constitutional practices and traditions.

    The practices of the RoI are irrelevant. Are you advocating that Unionism in Northern Ireland must take account of RoI practices and seek to differentiate itself from them for the sake of it?

    The merits or otherwise of abortion and the degree of its availability are a matter for serious debate. It is not a proper or practical assessment tool for someone’s belief in the Union. There is an obvious temptation to link the issues if the GB position is your preferred outcome but a temptation I would suggest better resisted.

  • Napoleons nose.

    I’ll take nannyism over fundamentalism any day.

    Is there a difference. Both want to run your life, both tell you how to think and act…..

    Can’t tell much difference myself but I’m open to persuasion.

  • ZoonPol

    Can you all remember politicalcompass.org? Labour, which started as parliamentary socialist party is arguably more authoritarian today than the Conservative Party. It appears all political parties are paternalistic – more so in light of the 7-week detention without charge fiasco.
    Abortion may be the carrot or it may be the stick but in light of our own MLAs using God as a weapon and shield I do not have much confidence in Stormont especially when it is reported elsewhere that the Executive is not meeting but yet they feel morally bound to take their salaries nonetheless. In addition, I would like clarification on the present rules on abortion in NI when you read reports that women are using DIY kits for the above purpose. Maybe we should have a referendum on this matter as we cannot rely on the Health Committees at Stormont if they contain religious zealots and also because this is a matter of social policy that affects all (sic).

  • The Raven

    Sammy McNally

    I don’t believe I made any assertion other than:

    bring on the pro-choice agenda; and
    not all Prods are Orangemen

    As for policing and “justice”, and superiority to other inhabitants of this island….

    …I will leave that to others.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    It’s interesting that’s it’s framed as an imposition of something when what is being discussed is removing the legal sanction that prevents an individual woman from making a choice about what she wishes to do with her own body. The issue is of removing a restriction on behavior that currently exists so in what sense is that an imposition? It’s a peculiar framing of the debate by the opponents of the 1967 Act.

    It may well be the case that a majority of people in Northern Ireland are opposed to it but perhaps on this issue the more conservative social mores of a UK minority should not be able to be dominant. At the end of the day if you are opposed to abortion then you won’t have one but why should your particular world view or moral outlook be imposed on a woman who does not see it the same way. I don’t see abortion as the end of a life because up until the point at which a baby is capable of independent life outside the woman’s body then in my view it is a part of her body and she may do with it as she chooses. Conception is not the beginning of life by any stretch. A very large number of conceptions do not make it to full term it’s a natural part of the biological process as a consequence of the mutations that take place naturally as part of the process of biological development and evolution. The process creates variations on the human organism and many of them are not capable of surviving and will naturally die. This can take the form of miscarriages which in some instances occur before someone would ever realize they were pregnant. In the context of a biological process like this it seems to me to be nonsense to talk of life beginning at conception. Life begins when a successful human organism develops to the point that it can sustain its own independent life separate from the mother’s body. Now I know this view is not shared by all people but the question is whether their outlook should constrain the behavior of a woman who sees it as I do. It strikes me that a very high bar has to be reached to justify this and the mere existence of a majority in Northern Ireland is not sufficient to support such tyranny of the majority over the freedom of the individual.

    I would also say that as a supporter of the UUP I am pretty pissed off that Sir Reg sees fit to write to the committee to express a blanket opposition by the UUP to this extension. I am not the only member of the UUP who is pro choice by a very long stretch and it is improper for Sir Reg to state a collective position on this issue when no such consensus exists within the UUP., It is a matter of individual conscience on the part of UUP members not something that should be set as a uniform policy for the UUP and he should have respected the good conscience views of a wide number of UUP members.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Duncan Shipley Dalton,

    The UUP is a great example of how un-British the Non-Iron Unionists actually are – their leaders feel the need to align themselves with the forces of intolerance (the Orange Order) and with conservative policies related to religious convictions rather than the merit of social policy. The British ( mainland ) equivalent of David Trimble would never have found himself cavorting on the Garvaghey Road.

    Wee Reggie didnt consult with the party because he knows that the even more intolerant DUP would invite the deeply conservative Ulster unionist population to paint him as anti-life.

    The Raven,

    My comments were about the Ulster unionist population in general and not your goodself – the absence of secularism must be a source of intense annoyance for what seems like a small minority of Unionists who are not deeply religiously conservative.

  • Mike

    Traditional Unionist –

    You do realise criminal justice is a reserved matter, right?

    (As an aside, interestingly even though the policing and justice powers have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, abortion law in Scotland remains Westminster’s responsibility)

  • Mike

    Sammy McNally

    That seems like an odd comment to me. There are plenty of Unionists, like myself, who are completely secular, never mind just “not deeply religiously conservative”.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Mike,

    to the outsider it looks like that – the largest party was created and led by a clerygman, an extraordinary circumstance in itself, with religious belief underpinning its politics.

    Most politicians seem too need to associate themselves with a deeply conservative, religious instutition – the Orange Order – which seems to most non Unioinists to be sectarian and backward looking.

    The political secular voice of Ulster unionists is a very quiet one indeed – with apolgies to Sammy Morse.

  • TAFKABO

    Are there many Orangemen on this site? Or were you just making a sweeping generalisation there? Just out of interest.

    I was of course making a sweeping generalisation, but a fair one. I don’t mind being labaled as orange, even though I’m a secual atheist.