The last time I blogged on the abortion campaign in Northern Ireland in June, it dropped like a stone. I’m glad to say that the campaign is full of life and is carrying the cause to London. This effort will almost certainly fail and may not even reach the floor of the House of Commons. Much depends on Harriet Harman who is minister for women as well as the organiser of Commons business. It made waves at Westminster in July by exposing divisions at the very top of government over priorities- which was more important, the rights of women ( Harriet Harman), or the stability of the NI Executive (Gordon Brown)? But Diane Abbott’s amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to extend the GB Abortion act to the province offers a platform that may cause guidelines – deemed vague and restrictive by the family Planning Association – to be eased over time. It look four years and a judicial rebuke to force even this statement out of Stormont. The Pro-Choice campaign claims that: “..these warnings (of the illegality of abortion in the guidelines) suggest that even the small number of abortions that are carried out at present and which, the guidelines confirm, are illegal – those carried out for reasons of foetal abnormality – will now cease. Attrition and persistence in a long process of education is probably the route to civilisation. As with gay rights, there are plenty of people in public life who duck the issue but who would privately tolerate abortion if it was enacted. If you can spare the time from picking at the old sectarian sores, it would be interesting to know where Slugger opinion stands.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London