We stand with women and children, and in doing so, we advocate for laws in Northern Ireland which protect the life, health and dignity of them both.
Between July 2019 and March 2020 new legislation was passed at Westminster which radically changed the law on abortion in Northern Ireland.
Vital protections and safeguards for women and unborn children were removed and new regulations were introduced which permit abortion in the following situations:
- Up to 12 weeks for any or no stated reason.
- Between 12 – 24 weeks where ‘the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman which is greater than if the pregnancy were terminated’. This is essentially unspecified mental or physical health reasons.
- Up to birth where the death of the baby is assessed to be ‘likely before, during or shortly after birth’.
- Up to birth where ‘if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental impairment as to be seriously disabled’.
- Up to birth where it is deemed ‘immediately necessary to save the life, or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health, of the pregnant woman’.
- Up to birth where two registered medical professionals are of the opinion formed in good faith that it is ‘necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; or the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman which is greater than if the pregnancy were terminated’.
The new legislation and regulations also mean that:
- Abortions can be performed by one medical professional including a midwife or nurse.
- Abortions can be performed in hospitals, at clinics or in homes.
- There is only a limited conscience protection for medical staff, mirroring England and Wales. This appears to mean that managerial, ancillary and administrative tasks are not properly protected by this statutory protection, however other employment laws on discrimination may still apply and this point remains to be tested in the local courts.
- There are currently no statutory exclusion zones relating to protests around premises which offer abortion services, however this will be kept under review.
- There is no criminal offence for self-inducing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy.
The previous law in Northern Ireland struck a difficult and delicate balance protecting the lives of both mother and unborn child about as far as possible. Over the course of fifty years from 1967, when the Abortion Act was introduced to Great Britain but not Northern Ireland, our previous law helped to save the lives of over 100,000 people . The 1861 Offences Against the Person Act and the Infant Preservation Act (1929 and extended to Northern Ireland in 1945) combined to limit carefully the circumstances where abortions could be carried out to instances of saving the life of the woman and real and serious, permanent or long term risks to physical or mental health. These laws were repealed and replaced with the Executive Formation (Northern Ireland) Act 2019 which paved the way for these new regulations.
In summary the law has changed dramatically and the new law has sped up the eventual end goal of the pro-abortion lobby – abortion permitted by anyone, anywhere, at any stage up to birth, for any reason.
This is why we continue to stand with women and children, and in doing so, advocate for laws in Northern Ireland which reinstate protections around the life, health and dignity of both.
This is why we are working to ensure the provision of more services and support for women and children, allowing real choices that enable every woman in every pregnancy to choose life regardless of individual circumstances.
This is why we are helping you to challenge the current culture where pregnancy is the problem and abortion is the solution and change it for the better.
The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth- Declaration of the Rights of the Child 1959
In no case is abortion to be promoted as a means of family planning… counselling and affordable and available contraceptives [are] integral to the efforts to reduce recourse for abortion- Principle 8 of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development