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Policy allowing abortion for Northern Irish minors without parental consent exposed

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Shocking revelations show that despite Northern Ireland's pro-life laws, the British government plans to offer free abortions to under-16s from Northern Ireland. This discovery was accompanied by the disturbing fact that in many cases parental knowledge and consent will not be required.

Ever since the government adopted Labour MP Stella Creasy's amendment in June, Northern Irish women have been able to access free abortions in England. The government has also recently started to cover travel costs as well as abortion fees.


Disregard of legislative and parental authority

Speaking at the monthly Prayer for Parliament meeting this week, Fiona Bruce MP referred to the government’s offer of free abortions to Northern Irish women as "an affront to the Northern Ireland legislative system". The recent revelations show that the government is not only undermining Stormont’s laws, but is also denying parents the right to be aware of their child’s activities. This blatantly disregards their role in child safeguarding.

The discovery was made as the result of a written question to the Department of Health by Lord Alton of Liverpool enquiring if minors needed parental permission before travelling for the procedure. As part of his answer on behalf of the Department of Health, Lord O'Shaughnessy responded:

“A doctor or health professional is able to provide contraception, sexual and reproductive health advice and treatment, including abortion, without parental knowledge or consent, to a young person aged under 16 years, provided that the doctor or health professional is satisfied that the conditions set out in the Fraser Guidelines are met. Health professionals should make every effort to encourage young women aged under 16 to involve their parents. If they cannot be persuaded to do so then they should be assisted to find another adult (such as another family member or specialist youth worker) to provide support.”

 

Justice called into question

There are significant legal realities within this policy to consider:

  • The legal age of consent to sex is 16. If a minor under the age of 16 seeks an abortion, a criminal and sexually exploitative act has occurred.
  • A criminal act being the source of the pregnancy, the government allowance risks increasing the likelihood of coercion in the child seeking an abortion. It places the child at further risk of abuse and sexual exploitation.

The ramifications of the government’s policy are significant. How does providing free abortions to minors, potentially without parental knowledge or consent signal that sexual exploitation and justice for sex crimes are taken seriously? It does not. What does a free abortion with travel, unknown to the parent, do to help the young expectant mother in crisis and protect her from further abuse and exploitation? Nothing.

 

DUP disappointed

The DUP, currently a part of Theresa May’s coalition government has expressed its disappointment over the British Government’s policies which have effectively usurped Stormont’s authority.  DUP MP Sammy Wilson has indicated that the party has “never been happy” with the legislation and it “goes against the wishes” of the people of Northern Ireland.

 

What can you do

Please consider writing to the DUP MPs, encouraging them to continue in their opposition to any attempt to liberalise Northern Irish legislation.

Please consider writing to relevant MPs who are a part of Theresa May’s cabinet expressing concern over the government's undermining of Northern Ireland’s legislative authority as well as the responsibility of parents. MPs to consider writing include Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Justice, David Lidington, and Prime Minister, Theresa May. If you would like advice on how to properly address these individuals or key points to include, please contact us.

At this week’s Prayer for Parliament, DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, a committed Christian, acknowledged the reality of spiritual warfare in seeking the nation’s good via the legislative system. Please pray that the Lord will change hearts and minds within our government to see and value the preborn child’s right to life and that God will allow those who are faithful to find favour in stance for life.

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