The House of Lords has voted overwhelmingly to impose new abortion regulations on Northern Ireland despite the province’s Assembly rejecting the measures.
Peers voted by 355 to 77 in favour of the regulations on Monday evening.
Crossbench peer Baroness O’Loan tabled an amendment to reject the regulations. “We now have a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly. Abortion is a devolved matter. The assembly voted to reject these regulations on June 2,” she said during the debate.
“I ask you to listen to the people of Northern Ireland. Listen to our assembly. Do not approve these regulations.”
However, her amendment was defeated by 388 votes to 112, CNA reports.
Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right to Life UK, described the vote as a “huge disappointment”. “Tonight’s vote in the House of Lords is not just a blow to the people of Northern Ireland and to the majority of MLAs, who voted against the extreme abortion regime at the Northern Ireland Assembly, but is also a huge disappointment for both pro-life campaigners and people with disabilities across the UK,” she said.
Lord Alton of Liverpool also criticised the vote, writing that backbench peers were told not to speak for more than one minute while frontbenchers for the main parties were given extra time to support the regulations.
“Eighteen of the speeches were against the regulations and 20 were for. But the front benches of the political parties were given extra time to make their speeches in favour of the imposition of abortion laws while Northern Ireland peers – drawn from three other political parties – were disgracefully given none,” he wrote on his blog.
“The political elites wonder why people have become so alienated and disillusioned with them – this evening’s proceedings should give them the answer.”
The House of Commons is expected to vote on the regulations on Wednesday.
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