Tory MP Heidi Allen broke down with emotion in the Commons on Tuesday as she revealed her “incredibly hard decision” to have an abortion.
The South Cambridgeshire MP spoke out during an emergency debate in Parliament on extending abortion rights to women in Northern Ireland.
Just moments after Allen’s speech, however, DUP MP Sammy Wilson launched an angry tirade about UK abortion laws, saying UK laws saw unborn children “discarded and put in a bin”. He has been branded “disgraceful”.
Allen told MPs her choice was not easy.
“I was ill when I made the incredibly hard decision to have a termination: I was having seizures every day, I wasn’t even able to control my own body, let alone care for a new life,” she said.
Waving his finger at colleagues, Wilson told the Commons he was “not embarrassed” about his pro-life stance.
“This debate has two sides to it,” he said. “Of course it’s got those views of those who wish to control their own bodies but it’s also got, and it’s the side which I think has been lacking in most of the speeches, is: what about the unborn child.”
Wilson, pointing to MPs across the House, including Allen, went on to say: ”We have people today in Northern Ireland who are rearing families, who are contributing to society, who are building their businesses, who are working in our factories, who are sitting in our schools, who otherwise, if we had your legislation that you have here in the rest of the UK would have been discarded and put in a bin before they were even born.”
The debate was called by Labour MP Stella Creasy. She is calling for MPs to repeal parts of a 150-year-old UK law that continue to criminalise abortion in the region.
The focus has turned to Northern Ireland after a landslide vote in the Republic of Ireland to liberalise its termination laws.
Stormont is not currently sitting as Sinn Fein and the DUP remain at loggerheads and Creasy believes Westminster should use the opportunity to update the Offences Against the Person Act.
The DUP, which is staunchly opposed, has previously blocked liberalising abortion law at Stormont using a mechanism called a petition of concern.
Polling shows a majority of the Northern Irish public support abortion law.
“This is a hard and emotive topic. Northern Ireland is a devolved administration, so is it our business,” said Allen, who was among dozens of MPs who made speeches.
She went on: “I’m a modern, progressive woman in this country and I am proud that this country is my home.
“As a woman who believes passionately in equality, in choice and individuals’ right to determine their own destiny, as a woman elected to be the MP for South Cambridge, in the 21st Century who stood yesterday to support [Creasy’s] request for this debate, because she is standing up for all of the women in the UK, but mostly because I have been there, I am making it my business.”
Speaking later in the debate, SNP MP Hannah Bardell criticised Wilson.
She said: “To hear members of the DUP suggest that women are opting for abortions as a matter of convenience, unborn children being thrown in the bin or babies being disposed of is a disgusting way to describe the choices women have to make anywhere in the UK.”
Others on Twitter shared their view.