Originally published in Lifesite News
British MPs passed amendments on Tuesday to legalise abortion and homosexual “marriage” in Northern Ireland if the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont is not restored by October 21.
The British parliament voted 332-99 on Labour MP Stella Creasy’s amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland, the BBC reported.
British MPs also voted 383-73 in favour of an amendment by Labour M.P. Conor McGinn to legalize homosexual “marriage” in the region, according to Extra.ie.
Abortion is allowed in the United Kingdom up to 24 weeks but is illegal in Northern Ireland, allowed “only when the mother’s life is at risk” or if there is risk of “permanent, serious damage to her mental or physical health,” reported the Catholic News Agency.
Homosexual “marriage” likewise is not recognised in Northern Ireland.
The British Parliament’s Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill is intended to keep government “ticking over” in Northern Ireland, where the devolved executive has not been functioning since a bitter split in 2017 between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin, according to the BBC.
The bill allows the Northern Ireland Office to defer an election of a new assembly until October, or even January 2020 if necessary. Negotiations between the Northern Ireland’s political parties have been ongoing since May 2019, the BBC reported.
With MPs approving the bill’s amendments Tuesday, the British government is now “obliged” to pass laws legalising abortion and homosexual “marriage” if the Northern Ireland Office does not call a Stormont election before October 21, Extra.ie reported.
Both the abortion amendment and the homosexual “marriage” amendment include the condition that if Westminster passes such laws, a future Northern Ireland Assembly could overturn or amend them, according to the BBC.
Clare McCarthy of Right To Life UK condemned Tuesday’s Westminster vote as “an unconstitutional and disrespectful attempt to override devolution in Northern Ireland and to attempt to impose abortion on demand on the Northern Irish people.”
“It is totally constitutionally inappropriate to bring forward abortion amendments to a bill which has nothing to do with abortion in any way, to legislate on such a sensitive matter,” McCarthy said in a press release.
“The law on this issue should be a decision for the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives, not for MPs in Westminster to decide.”
Meanwhile, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor strongly condemned the abortion amendment last weekend, Catholic News Agency reported.
They urged Catholics and pro-life citizens to contact members of Parliament to object to the amendments before Tuesday’s vote.
Martin is “deeply concerned by suggestions that amendments are being considered to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill … which will hijack this Bill to remove existing legal protection for unborn babies and to ‘fast track’ the legalisation of abortion on demand in Northern Ireland,” he said July 6.
“How tragic it is for humanity that some legislators would ‘fast track’ the ending of the lives of the most defenceless in our society,” said the archbishop.
“It is urgent to restore an executive in Northern Ireland, so that the common good of all our people can be served,” added Martin.
“There is something particularly cynical, however, in taking advantage of the present political crisis to remove the right to life of the most vulnerable of our people; the unborn baby. The common good cannot be served in this way,” he said.
Bishop Treanor circulated a letter at weekend Masses in his diocese, which includes parishes in Antrim, Down and Derry, asking Catholics to contact their MP “to register their objection to this undemocratic process,” the Irish Times reported.
It is “vital” that Northern Ireland citizens “and especially Christian citizens, take note that the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, now before the Westminster Parliament, is being used to introduce amendments aiming to liberalise provision of abortion in Northern Ireland without the say-so of either the citizens of Northern Ireland or their elected representatives,” the bishop wrote.
Treanor viewed “with the deepest concern this eleventh hour initiative by some MP’s to table amendments to a Bill, whose primary function is to put in place measures to accommodate the ongoing absence of a Northern Ireland Assembly,” he wrote.
“The issue of the protection of human life and the redefinition of marriage are not … devolved matters, which should be decided upon by the people of Northern Ireland,” Treanor stated.
Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader Nigel Dodds denounced the decision by Labour to add amendments to the bill as “deeply unhelpful” to the talks at Stormont, and said it was wrong for M.P.s at Westminster to try to take control of such issues in Northern Ireland, according to the BBC.
Bishop John Sherrington, auxiliary bishop of Westminster and life issues spokesman for the English and Welsh bishops, also urged Catholics to object to the bill’s amendments, CNA reported.
“Such a change would leave Northern Ireland with a significantly different abortion framework to the Republic of Ireland, where, following the recent referendum, there is a twelve week limit,” Sherrington stated.
“It would also leave Northern Ireland, England and Wales with some of the most extreme abortion laws in the world, and more than twice the limit of most European countries,” he said.
Right to Life UK said if the amendment passed, it “would potentially lead to significant numbers coming across the border for abortions from the Republic of Ireland,” where abortion is generally limited to up to 12 weeks, reported CNA.