Life has denounced the regulations released today which will make abortion in Northern Ireland more widely available than the majority of countries in Europe, including the rest of the UK.
We are greatly concerned with the following provisions:
- Abortion on demand up to 12 weeks, including abortions based on gender
- Abortion up to 24 weeks with minimum restrictions that will be tantamount to abortion on demand – similar to the provisions in England and Wales
- Abortion up to birth for disability – including those with Down’s Syndrome
- Prior to 12 weeks, only one medical professional needs to sign off an abortion, this can include doctors, midwives and nurses who can perform abortions under this condition.
Life’s Director of Advocacy Liz Parsons said “we are gravely concerned at the new regulations for Northern Ireland, not least for the many vulnerable women who will now find themselves on the abortion conveyor belt with little or no alternative support being offered. Having less supervision and restrictions over abortion will leave women in crisis open to exploitation, placing their health and safety at risk.
As with the 1967 Abortion Act, their provision for abortion for disability up to birth is to introduce discrimination for people who are born with disability. We could not be more disappointed that the government hasn’t listened to the pleas of campaign groups like ‘Don’t Screen Us Out’ who have lobbied for years to highlight this discriminatory nature of the abortion law.
In a matter of months, Northern Ireland has moved from a place where both mother and baby were protected, to a situation where there is no protection for the baby at all up to 12 weeks, or up to birth if it has a disability. These decisions to bring in such liberal and overreaching abortion legislation go above and beyond what is required by the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Act (2019). Not only does this show a complete disregard for the will of the people of Northern Ireland, but it also highlights the government’s persistence in backing the abortion industry instead of offering women real, robust support in pregnancy and beyond.
Despite these heinous and destructive new regulations, Life Northern Ireland will still stand with women and offer them the help and support they and their babies deserve. There has never been a greater need for widespread access to perinatal care and practical support for those facing difficult or unexpected pregnancy. We will continue to provide these services to women and make sure they are aware of all the options available to them.