Northern Ireland’s abortion law change is a travesty for devolution

Oct 22, 2019 by

by Melanie McDonagh, Spectator:

Short of a miracle, abortion will become legal in Northern Ireland tomorrow [21 October]. It’s a result of a shabby legislative deal back in July, when English parliamentarians amended the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) bill, to override the entire principle of devolution.

In other words, the abortion laws of the north of Ireland will be annulled at the say-so of the Westminster parliament and – without a single vote in its assembly or any consultation with its people – brought into line with the rest of the UK, only slightly more liberal.

There has been less crowing about this from the egregious Stella Creasy, the chief mover behind the change, than we might have expected simply because the urgent, immediate problem of Brexit has understandably crowded out every other issue from the broadcast schedule. But I expect the BBC and other broadcasters will find space to make clear that this is the merest bit of overdue legislative housekeeping to bring the law in Northern Ireland into line with that of the rest of the UK.

On this subject, the lack of balance in the coverage, notwithstanding the profoundly divisive and momentous nature of the change, has been dispiriting if unsurprising. I’ve just listened to an interview about the change on the Radio 4 PM programme with a journalist from the pro-choice side, where there wasn’t even an attempt at balance, or any challenge to the assertion that only 18 per cent of people support abortion being a criminal offence.

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