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Baroness Nuala O'Loan

Baroness Nuala O'Loan

Abortion Law ‘a Complete Denial of Democracy’

10 August 2019 by EWTN Ireland: Baroness Nuala O’Loan has described the imposition of abortion on Northern Ireland by the British parliament as “a complete denial of democracy to the people of Northern Ireland.” Baroness O’Loan was writing this week in The Irish News.

In her opinion piece in The Irish News Baroness O’Loan highlighted the fact that every Northern Ireland MP who sits at Westminster voted against the measure, as did all members of the House of Lords living in Northern Ireland, but it was still imposed by MPs and peers from England, Wales and Scotland.  “This was a complete denial of democracy to the people of Northern Ireland.”

Under the legislation introduced this new law will apply unless the NI Assembly meets again before October 22. The Assembly has not met nor the Executive functioned since January 2017, when Sinn Fein deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigned as a result of the RHI scandal.

The consequences are grave. Baroness O’Loan explained “If the Assembly does not sit by October 21, then between October 22 2019 and March 31 2020, abortion will be legal up to 28 weeks, for any reason, including, for example where the baby has a disability or is of a different sex from that which the parents want, unless it can be proved that the baby would have been capable of being born alive.”

She added “There will be no law governing where, how, or in what circumstances an abortion can take place, no requirement to keep records Government has said it will introduce guidance. Guidance is not law and does not provide legal protection. As soon as the act was passed for Northern Ireland there were calls in Westminster to extend the time limit for most abortions in Great Britain to 28 weeks because that will be the law in Northern Ireland.”

Baroness O’Loan is a former Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland and Catholic commentator. She sits on the Cross Benches in the House of Lords. In July with fellow Peer, the former Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, Archbishop Lord Eames she wrote to the then Prime Minister Theresa May detailing concerns. The letter was supported by over 10,000 signatories in 48 hours.

Baroness O’Loan raised concerns over a number of matters arising from the legislation that have grave implications. “We do not have any idea what form abortion law might take after March 31.”

“There will be no law governing where how, or in what circumstances an abortion can take place, no requirement to keep records.”

“We will have no say in critical issues such as time limits. reasons for abortion, provision for the protection of the life of an unborn baby, or provision or conscientious objection for our doctors, nurses and pharmacists.”

“There will be no opportunity  to put arguments of any kind about how medicine and our understanding of life in the womb has developed in the 52 years since abortion was introduced in Great Britain.”

In appealing to people across Northern Ireland to make their views known Baroness O’Loan said: “Time is very short. I know from the response of the people here during those days in July when parliament railroaded this bill through that so many people believe in the right to life of the unborn child and do not want this new law.”

“This is a terrible situation one in which everybody  who cares about unborn babies, about women and girls who might be coerced into abortion by unwilling partners or parents, can make a difference. What happened in Westminster last month should not have happened. Those whom we have elected need to get back into government.”

“The people of Northern Ireland, right across the community, need to make their voices heard again as they did last month requiring recognition of our democratic right to make our own decisions.”