Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021

Lord Taylor of Warwick’s speech in the House of Lords on 28th April 2021.

My Lords, a womb is not a tomb. In 1996 I presented the Bill which created the UK’s first DNA database. From the moment of conception, life begins, with unique DNA which no other human soul in the world has. Abortion, in the dictionary, means abandonment, death, destruction, expulsion, cancellation, rescission, revocation and feticide—cold, hard, final words which cannot be reversed.

I oppose these regulations. Abortion is a devolved issue. The Northern Ireland Assembly has now been sitting for over 15 months, so it is a serious violation of the devolution settlement for the Government to impose themselves further through the commissioning of abortion services—services which are already being provided. In the year since the abortion regulations were introduced, 1,345 lives have already been lost to abortion in Northern Ireland. There are now over 50 million abortions per year worldwide. That is more than one abortion per second. During the 90 minutes of this short debate, more than 5,400 babies worldwide will have been aborted.

Of the consultation responses, 79% registered general opposition, based on the historical and established position on abortion in Northern Ireland, yet these regulations ignore this clear opposition. These latest regulations go beyond what is available in the rest of the United Kingdom, against the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland and their politicians. For example, they permit gender-selective abortion and there is no requirement that a doctor be involved. There is a clear breach of Article 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which states that everyone has the right to life, whether able-bodied or disabled.

We start every day’s session in both Houses of Parliament with prayers. Surely God’s words in the Bible should not be ignored. Psalm 139, verses 13 and 16, emphasises how God views each and every life that He creates as ordained for a purpose and special:

“For you created my inmost being;

You knit me together in my mother’s womb …

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

All the days ordained for me were written in your book”.

We have a choice between man’s regulations and God’s words. Everyone who is for abortion has already been born. Unborn babies do not have voices, but they do have rights. A womb is not a tomb.