A Northern Irish MP has urged the UK Government to recognise that parents are the “first and best guardians of their children’s rights” as it forces schools in Northern Ireland to teach children about abortion.
Speaking in the House of Commons, DUP MP Carla Lockhart highlighted that parents are “genuinely angry and fearful”, after Westminster politicians voted to impose the sex ed regulations “with no consultation, little scrutiny and no care for the devolution settlement”.
According to the Northern Ireland Office, the regulations “will result in educating adolescents on issues such as how to prevent a pregnancy, the legal right to an abortion in Northern Ireland, and how relevant services may be accessed”.
But Lockhart said that due to the “wide range of views and perspectives” on abortion, teaching about it “should be left to parents, not schools”.
“The very act of teaching about abortion is not morally neutral. It normalises it, presenting the subject — the taking of innocent human lives at their most vulnerable stage — as a mere moral dilemma about which people may be free to disagree, whereas for those who are pro-life, human lives are at stake.”
As such, the MP said governors should be allowed to produce a Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) policy in line with their school’s ethos, while parents must be able to withdraw their child from any part of an RSE lesson.
The Department of Education’s consultation on the implementation of the regulations closes in November, while the guidance for schools is due to be published in January.
Earlier this year, a Conservative MP quit his role in order to vote with his conscience against the Government’s new regulations on sex ed in Northern Ireland.
Robin Millar, a Parliamentary Private Secretary to Welsh Secretary David Davies, was one of 20 Tory MPs who voted against the regulations as the House of Commons passed it by 373 to 28 votes.
He said: “I could not in good conscience represent parents and at the same time ignore the conclusion of the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee that more time was needed to consult with parents in NI before enacting this Statutory Instrument.”