The High Court has granted a major pro-life group permission to launch a judicial review against the Westminster Government’s new powers which could override the Stormont Executive on abortion.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) is challenging regulations which enable Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis to force the Executive to commission abortion services across the Province.
Individual hospital trusts already perform abortions, but Westminster politicians want this to be a requirement throughout Northern Ireland. The case is due to be heard later this month.
SPUC’s Liam Gibson said: “This is not only a threat to unborn children, but it is a threat to the devolution settlement”.
He added: “It’s not supposed to be direct rule from Westminster when it suits Westminster. This is a devolved matter and it makes what the Secretary of State is trying to do invalid.”
A spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission argued that it may intervene against the pro-life group’s challenge. The taxpayer-funded quango is also undertaking legal action against Stormont, over claims that it has not expanded abortion services enough.
Mr Justice Colton is expected to deliver judgement in both cases after SPUC’s hearing.
In April, a number of MPs spoke out against the regulations during a debate of the Delegated Legislation Committee.
Miriam Cates described the regulations as “unnecessary, dangerous and overreaching” and Jim Shannon said that he was speaking “for all those unborn babies who have not had the chance to enjoy a real life”.
unnecessary, dangerous and overreaching
Stating that the “vast majority of people in Northern Ireland want laws that choose life”, Carla Lockhart concluded her speech by affirming that we are all “‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, and all unique individuals.”