Melanie McDonagh

Northern Ireland’s pro-choice lobby couldn’t care less about democracy

Northern Ireland's pro-choice lobby couldn't care less about democracy
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Well, the High Court in Belfast has driven a coach and horses through Northern Ireland’s abortion law. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) sought a ruling to allow women to have abortions in local hospitals in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest; today, it got it. This judgment is plainly at odds with the opinion of the democratic forum in the north, the Northern Ireland Assembly, where every attempt to have abortion introduced upfront, in law, has been thrown out. Instead abortion seems likely to be brought in through the courts, that weaselly, undemocratic method of choice by the human rights lobby, whose concept of human rights never seems to extend to prenatal life. (Plus, I should very much like to know how much of its funding comes from the US: answers, please, whenever you like.)

And I can’t quite see that you can satisfactorily establish the fact of rape, or possibly incest, within the constraints of gestation. It normally takes a few months to establish guilt through the courts in the case of rape by which time any baby conceived by violation would already have been born; I take it, then, that the simple assertion of rape or incest will be enough to get the abortion.

The interesting thing about the abortion issue is that it crosses all the divides on both sides of the argument, both ways: gender, religion, age. The SDLP and the DUP make common cause against abortion; the abortion lobby includes Catholics as well as Protestants and agnostics. But the thing about Assembly members is that they’re elected, which is more than you can say for the one-sided, partisan, NIHRC. Though in saying that, there is one exception. Sinn Fein, democratically elected too, are now mostly pro-choicers, having adopted a secularist stance on most issues. And as we all know, it’s terrifically keen on human rights.