‘Distressing day’: NI Secretary commissions abortion services across Province

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has carried out the Westminster Government’s threat to override the Northern Ireland Executive by increasing abortion services across the Province.

Following the Government’s announcement in October, Chris Heaton-Harris has written to the Department of Health to formally commission abortion services nationwide using powers that do not require the approval of Stormont.

In March 2020, Westminster politicians imposed a radical abortion law on Northern Ireland, and in July last year demanded the expansion of abortion capacity by 31 March 2022, which did not take place.


In response, Revd Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, said: “The fact that Mr Heaton-Harris has chosen to give life to the most destructive liberal abortion regime in these islands is not only deeply regrettable, but deplorable.

“It is a sad and distressing day for everyone who values the sanctity of life, and is devastating for those who will not live to experience it.”

Revd Gribben lamented that the Secretary of State has not protected resources to support mothers during pregnancy, and he said no thought has been given “to support the provision of comprehensive perinatal care services that involve practical, emotional and spiritual support for women”.

not only deeply regrettable, but deplorable

He highlighted that 79 per cent of respondents to the UK Government’s 2019 consultation on the abortion proposals opposed the measures, and he said there is little guidance on conscience protections for the “many staff” who do not want to participate in the abortion process.


In October, DUP MP Carla Lockhart called the UK Government’s announcement on commissioning abortion services “shameful”.

She said: “Northern Ireland does not support abortion, it never has. It still doesn’t.”

Also see:

Baby shoes

MPs speak out against push to make abortion a human right

Heidi Crowter resolute in fight to end ‘downright discrimination in the womb’

Pro-life group: ‘ROI must not endanger women by extending DIY abortions’

Related Resources