Five quotes from DUP politicians on abortion that are actually real

Jake Hall
Thursday 07 June 2018 13:15
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It's been a whirlwind few weeks for the women of Ireland.

Last month, after a long, tireless campaign led by pro-choice activists, the Republic of Ireland decided via referendum that its archaic abortion laws will be repealed. The decision marked a landmark step forward for women's rights, but the aftermath of the victory drew attention to Northern Ireland's still-strict abortion laws.

Over the last few days, a number of MPs have pressured Prime Minister Theresa May to hold an emergency debate on Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

Their protests yielded some progress - and some seriously jaw-dropping quotes, which we'll get to soon - but ultimately Britain's Supreme Court this morning declared that it does not have the power to enact change, despite also stating that Northern Ireland's strict abortion stance actually violates human rights legislation.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley similarly said that she was in favour of changing the law, but that Westminster should not seek to intervene:

Personally I want to see reform in Northern Ireland - but it is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland.

It would not be appropriate for Westminster to seek to impose its will.

At the centre of these discussions has been the deeply traditional Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), whose discriminatory stance on issues such as LGBT+ rights and climate change were placed under a microscope when it last year agreed a £1billion deal with the Conservative party.

Unsurprisingly, their stance on abortion isn't exactly progressive; here's a series of the party's most questionable quotes.

1. Without abortion laws, children would be "discarded and put in a bin before they were ever born".

Earlier this week, an impassioned exchange between DUP politician Sammy Wilson and a series of Labour and Conservative representatives went viral.

The debate saw Conservative MP Heidi Allen fight back tears as she recounted her own experience of abortion. "I was having seizures every day; I was unable to care for my own body, let alone a new life," she explained in her impassioned speech.

Wilson's stance was that he was "not embarrassed" by the country's strict laws:

[The law does], by the way, protect the woman, her mental health and physical health, as well as protecting the rights of the unborn child.

As a result of [our legislation], Both Lives Matter has indicated there are 100,000 people alive in Northern Ireland today who otherwise would have been killed before they were even born.

He then went a step further with the outrageous claim that, without abortion laws, these children would have been:

Discarded and put in a bin before they were ever born.

2. Abortion has claimed more lives than the "gas and concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald".

Sammy Wilson isn't the only DUP member in hot water this week; just days ago, Northern Ireland's former health minister Jim Wells (now MLA) claimed that Britain's liberal abortion laws have claimed the lives of more "human beings" than concentration camps in Nazi Germany.

Speaking on BBC radio, Wells made the comparison in response to a caller. He said:

9.2 million people have had their lives terminated through abortion in Britain since 1967.

That is actually more than the number of lives murdered in the gas and concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

These disgusting comparisons of women's bodily autonomy to genocide were even criticised by DUP leader Arlene Foster, who warned that reproductive rights are a "very emotive issue" and that people should therefore choose their language carefully.

3. Abortions for rape victims will be 'carefully considered'.

When it was announced that Arlene Foster would become Northern Ireland's first female leader back in 2016, she was quizzed on her stance on a number of key issues. One of these issues was abortion.

After being elected - a race in which she ran unopposed - she told the Guardian:

I would not want abortion to be as freely available here as it is in England and don't support the extension of the 1967 act.

She then admitted that she would have to "carefully consider" a ruling which claimed that banning abortion for rape victims was a violation of human rights laws.

4. Rape victims should simply give up their babies for adoption

Jim Wells isn't just notorious for his Holocaust claims. In the past, he claimed that the "ultimate victim" of sexual assault is the unborn child, and that there are "hundreds of married couples" who would be more than willing to adopt a baby conceived through rape.

Of course, he fails to acknowledge the psychological trauma that would then have to be endured by an assault victim forced to carry her pregnancy through to full term.

Back in 2014, he was asked about abortion in the case of rape victims as part of a radio interview. In response, he said:

Should the ultimate victim of that terrible act - which is the unborn child - also be punished for what has happened by having their life terminated? No. In Northern Ireland, there are hundreds of married couples who would love to adopt children, a child, a baby, and who could give support in that situation.

A termination of a pregnancy should not be the first option in that situation. The other option is that you kill the child, who is a totally innocent victim in this terrible set of circumstances.

5. DUP is a "pro-life party, and we will continue to articulate our position".

Theresa May has praised "the Irish people" for the success of the Repeal the Eighth campaign, yet the Prime Minister is currently in a difficult situation as she strategically needs to maintain the DUP's support.

Any speculation that the Republic's victory would lead to a reconsideration of values by Northern Ireland was dispelled in another speech by Arlene Foster last week, in which she condemned campaigners taking to the streets in celebration. Doubling down on her previous statements, Foster declared:

The DUP is a pro-life party and we will continue to articulate our position.

[Abortion] is an extremely sensitive issue, and not one that should have people taking to the streets in celebration.

More: 17 quotes from DUP politicians that are actually real

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