Colin Hart, above, Director of the UK’s Christian Institute’s has expressed anger over a suggestion that Northern Ireland women wanting abortions should be able to do so in Wales.
Hart noted that both the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Court of Appeal had recently backed the Province’s law on abortion. He said:
Abortion is only allowed in Northern Ireland to preserve the life of the mother. This longstanding position has given the Province one of the most pro-life legal frameworks in the world.
It ensures that the value of human life is upheld and protected by healthcare professionals throughout a woman’s pregnancy.
He added that the Welsh proposals:
Completely undermine democracy in Northern Ireland, with the Assembly having previously voted against liberalising the law.
Paying for women to go over to Wales for NHS abortions shows absolutely no respect for this ruling.
In a consultation document, The Welsh Government notes that abortion is a devolved matter for the Northern Ireland assembly to decide, and states that the issue is not open to Welsh Ministers to change the law on abortion.
However, the Government says it wants to use general health powers:
To enable women who are normally resident in NI, to access termination of pregnancy services in Wales.
The Christian Institute points out the a 2017 report revealed that around 100,000 people are alive today because of Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.
The figure, from pro-life campaign Both Lives Matter, is equal to five per cent of the total population of the Province.
In August, the figure was upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority after investigating a small number of complaints.
Writing for the Guardian last August Elizabeth Wilson said:
It’s a fairly large number, 100,000, but nice and round. Easy to compute. Most of us could even divide it by 10, at a push. Apparently it is this convenient roundedness that led the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) this week to dismiss complaints about recent claims on a billboard that Northern Ireland’s abortion laws have saved “100,000” lives.
In its statement, the ASA said: “We considered that 100,000 was a large, round number that readers would typically associate with estimates” – and was therefore unproblematic.
Funded by a campaign called Both Lives Matter, the billboard prompted 14 complaints, but the ASA decided that its assertion was not misleading – despite the campaign admitting that it is not possible to calculate an exact figure, although its estimate is both “credible” and “conservative”.
It is not just the advertisement that is misleading and offensive, but also the very name of the campaign behind the billboard.
Describing itself as “pro-women and pro-life”, Both Lives Matter is a recent addition to the Northern Ireland anti-choice landscape, where abortion is permitted only if a woman’s life is at risk or there is a very serious risk to her mental or physical health. Fatal foetal abnormalities and pregnancies resulting from sexual crime such as rape or incest are not included.
And yet, somehow, in all its talk of “both” lives mattering during a crisis pregnancy, the campaign fails ever to mention the pregnant woman. What is happening to that person’s life – their body, their dreams, their finances, their mental health – is, for a campaign seemingly more intent on oppressing women than liberating them, nothing more than a word association game meant to draw a provocative parallel with a real struggle for civil rights.