The main architect of changes to the law that legalised abortion in England, Scotland and Wales half a century ago, has said that there are “too many” terminations taking place today.
Former Liberal leader Lord Steel, who introduced the 1967 Abortion Act, also said that abortion should not be seen as another form of contraception.
He was speaking after MPs in Westminster voted to relax abortion laws in Northern Ireland in the event that devolution is not restored by October 21.
MPs voted by 332 to 99 to extend abortion to Northern Ireland despite there being no consultation or vote by ministers representing Northern Ireland constituencies.
Lord Steel told the Belfast News Letter that he supported the outcome of the vote, saying that it was “long overdue” and “expensive and inconvenient” for women to travel to other parts of the UK for an abortion.
However, he expressed concern about the number of abortions taking place in the rest of the UK.
“I still think there are too many [abortions], and [that it is] wrong to use abortion as contraception,” he said.
Lord Steel has previously said it was “irresponsible” to view abortion as a form of contraception.
“Everybody can agree that there are too many abortions,” he said back in 2007.
He added at that time: “I accept that there is a mood now which is that if things go wrong you can get an abortion, and it is irresponsible, really. I think people should be a bit more responsible in their activities, and in particular in the use of contraception.”
The vote on Northern Ireland has angered Christian campaigners.
The Christian Institute’s Northern Ireland Officer Callum Webster said: “An estimated 100,000 lives have been saved in Northern Ireland precisely because of good laws on abortion.”
“Lord Steel is right to say there are too many abortions. And we know that around 98 per cent of them are carried out for social reasons.”
“It is tragic that MPs from outside Northern Ireland actually cheered the passing of this legislation.”
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