Some people want to permit abortion if a baby has a ‘fatal fetal abnormality’. However ‘fatal fetal abnormality’ has no agreed medical or legal meaning; the term ‘life-limiting condition’, is consistent with the international standards on perinatal palliative care.
Some babies with diagnosis that would fall under the suggested amendments are still alive today and contrary to what may be assumed, the majority of women facing such diagnoses continue with their pregnancy rather than abort their baby.
Changing the law to allow for abortion based on a life limited disability isn’t best care for the unborn baby and would lead to discrimination on the grounds of disability.
Neither is there the evidence to show that even in the tragic circumstances of sexual crime or life limited diagnosis, a woman’s long term mental health outcome is better served by abortion than the continuation of her pregnancy. Instead, we are working to ensure that women facing these very difficult circumstances receive the best support services and personal pathways of care, including perinatal hospice care and ongoing support services for the child’s lifetime, in the world.
Although these circumstances are not reasons in law for abortion in Northern Ireland the impact on an individual women’s health and life related to pregnancy in such circumstances has meant that on a case by case basis abortion has been permitted. It is important to note that in England and Wales less than 2% of all abortions are for these “hard cases”.
However, the law has, and continues to, come under increasing pressure to extend and even decriminalise abortion provision. The intensifying debate on abortion can polarise opinion and create unhelpful caricatures of both ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ advocates.
We believe women deserve better than the false dichotomy that pits her rights against that of the right to life of her unborn child. We believe the inherent dignity and humanity of both the woman and her unborn child deserve to be recognised in law, in policy and in society. We believe that women deserve better care in pregnancy crisis. We believe that a culture that is life-affirming both protects the inherent dignity of the unborn, and values the woman. We believe a truly progressive and equal society is one in which abortion is not required for women to flourish.