Women deserve better than abortion. Our healthcare providers must be pro-active and have services in place so that women and families in the midst of a pregnancy crisis have real choices. If a woman feels she has no choice other than abortion that is not real choice. Individual care pathways should be available which are centered on their wellbeing and that of their child. We call for more support and better care than abortion. Instead of devaluing life, we advocate for laws which recognise, protect and affirm the life, health and wellbeing of the (at least) two lives in existence in every pregnancy. All of our pregnancy care should provide choices to women, centered around these very same values and ethos.
- Prevention- world class provision of relationships education, advice and contraceptive services. Not all pregnancy crises are preventable. But every pregnancy means that more than one life is in existence. So there should be a concerted focus on reducing the likelihood of unwanted pregnancy while cultivating greater respect for human life and dignity.
- A personal pathway of care should be discussed and offered when a pregnancy crisis arises. This would gather existing services together including interdisciplinary medical care, financial advice, social services, Rowan SARC in the cases of sexual crime, chaplaincy services and charity NGO’s. The idea is to provide wrap around care to women, their families and unborn children to help support them and navigate through their pregnancy crisis.
- Pregnancy crisis counselling service. For those who wish to discuss their personal circumstances and where appropriate explore wider support services and alternative options such as adoption. Where specific disabilities are identified, peer to peer support is also needed and connections can be made if appropriate with charities, befrienders and parents of children with similar conditions.
- A perinatal hospice pathway should be offered when a severe life-limiting illness or disability is identified. This would offer the woman and her family medical, practical, emotional and spiritual support to continue the pregnancy until the natural end of the life of the baby. This respects the life of the unborn child and allows parents to be parents for their child’s entire life.
- Medical culture. The professional bodies representing many of our medical practitioners are U.K. wide. There has not however been the same cultural acceptance of abortion in NI, including within the medical profession here, due to over fifty years of what was a very different law on abortion. The previous law protected both lives in pregnancy. It provided a defense for abortion when a woman’s life and/or health (as defined in law) was at risk. The new legal and regulatory framework on abortion, (The Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020) is radically different to the previous law in Northern Ireland. There must be training on the new law and ongoing legal advice on its application and the existence of conscientious objection rights for our medical and healthcare professionals in Northern Ireland. There must also be awareness training on the provision of wider pregnancy crisis support services which ensure women are enabled to continue in their pregnancy without an assumption of, or pressure to choose abortion. Practitioners are crucial in creating a culture which affirms the life, health and dignity of every woman and unborn child.
- Ongoing care and support services beyond the initial pregnancy and post birth period should be available to assist every family and child.
There is a great work going on in Northern Ireland already. We celebrate this and champion those working for the wellbeing of the women and unborn children in these sensitive situations. We advocate for world leading services to complement our unique law and culture.
If the bringing of children into the world is today an economic burden, it is because the social system is inadequate. The human must not be limited and controlled to fit the economic, but the economic must be expanded to fit the human.- Fulton J. Sheen