A United Nations committee has called for abortion to be decriminalised “in all circumstances” in Northern Ireland.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has urged the NI Executive to “review its legislation” to ensure girls have access to ‘safe abortion’.
It made the recommendation as part of a wider report, which came under fire last week for claiming that Christian assemblies violate the human rights of children.
The committee’s recommendations are not legally binding and it cannot compel Northern Ireland’s Assembly to change legislation.
Callum Webster, The Christian Institute’s Northern Ireland Officer, said the UN’s call is at odds with its founding purpose:
“Unborn children in Northern Ireland currently have some of the best protections in the world.
“A committee tasked with looking after the ‘Rights of the Child’ should seek to uphold that, instead of acting as a cheerleader for abortion in any and every circumstance”.
“The UN was formed out of the ashes of the Second World War and the loss of millions of human lives. It should now do everything in its power to preserve life, not license more needless destruction of it.”
As the Committee on the Rights of the Child made its recommendations, the UN’s Human Rights Committee (HRC) – a separate body – ruled that the Republic of Ireland’s pro-life laws are ‘inhumane and degrading’.
The HRC carried out an inquiry into the case of Amanda Mellet, an Irish woman who was told she could not abort her seriously disabled child and travelled to Great Britain to do so.
Handing down its ruling on the case, it said Ireland had inflicted “intense suffering” on Mellet by not allowing her to abort her child there.
It demanded that the country relax its law and allow “accessible procedures for pregnancy termination”. Currently, abortion is only allowed in Ireland when a mother’s life is in danger.
Tracy Harkin, of pro-life group Every Life Counts, said: “The UN should be pressing to protect these very sick babies and provide better care, such as perinatal hospice care, for the families involved”.
Last week, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the UK Government to “repeal legal provisions for compulsory attendance at collective worship”.
Parents can already withdraw their children from collective worship but the committee wants children to be able to act independently of their parents.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Conservative MP David Burrowes said: “The UN should spend more time doing its main job of preventing war and genocide rather than poking its nose in other countries’ classrooms.”