NI Attorney General: abortion regulations ‘unclear and inconsistent’

Northern Ireland’s Attorney General has said the proposed changes to abortion law in the Province are inconsistent.

John Larkin QC told the Belfast News Letter that there are serious legal issues with the amendments passed by Westminster which need to be clarified.

The Christian Institute’s Northern Ireland Officer Callum Webster described MPs’ decision to impose abortion and same-sex marriage on Northern Ireland as “tragic”.


Stella Creasy’s amendment, tabled as New Clause 10, is based on recommendations from the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) report.

Mr Larkin said: “The CEDAW report to which clause 10 refers is, plainly, not drafted clearly or even consistently with important human rights texts.

“Any binding interpretation of what the words in clause 10 actually mean, however, must await the form in which those words are contained, if they are contained, in an Act of Parliament.”

Technical deficiencies

The comments were echoed in the House of Lords by Northern Ireland Office minister Lord Duncan of Springbank, who referred to “technical deficiencies” in the regulations.

Lord Duncan said: “We need to ensure that we do not end up with defective laws, which would not serve the interests of the people of Northern Ireland”.

Other Peers were scathing of the inadequate scrutiny being given to the amendments and the lack of respect for devolution.


Callum Webster said: “Northern Ireland values the lives of women and the unborn. An estimated 100,000 lives have been saved in the Province precisely because of its good laws on abortion.

“In contrast, in England, Scotland and Wales there have been more than nine million abortions since the 1967 Abortion Act came into force. Today, around 98 per cent are carried out for social reasons.

“It is tragic that MPs from outside Northern Ireland actually cheered the passing of this legislation.”

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