Iona Institute NI welcomes Bill to tackle ‘chilling’ abortion disability discrimination

Iona Institute NI welcomes Bill to tackle ‘chilling’ abortion disability discrimination Back in action: the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont Photo: Belfastlive

The Iona Institute NI has welcomed a Bill from the DUP which would outlaw abortions on babies with disabilities such as Down Syndrome.

The Bill, introduced by Paul Givan MLA, seeks to amend the Abortion Regulations 2020, which were “forced” on Northern Ireland by Westminster, said Tracey Harkin of Iona NI.

Ms Harkin said that it is “truly chilling that at the moment in Northern Ireland, babies with disabilities including Down syndrome, cleft palate and club foot can be selected for abortion up to birth”.

“The proposed new bill seeks to prevent abortions being carried out in cases of ‘non-fatal disabilities,” she continued. “This Is an important first legislative step towards pushing back against the worst extremities of the abortion regime forced upon us by the Westminster government.”

The Bill has not been supported by all pro-life organisations, some of whom – such as the SPUC – argue that it would “lend legitimacy” to the abortion laws.

Legitimacy

“Such a change would be merely symbolic,” the SPUC said in a statement. “But despite being statistically insignificant, it would lend democratic legitimacy to the 99.993% of abortions which would fall outside the scope of the Bill— legitimacy that they would not otherwise enjoy.

“It could also seriously undermine the chances of repealing the radical legislation imposed by Westminster by creating the false impression that it is less extreme than it really is.”

Ms Harkin for the Iona Institute said that the while the Bill “isn’t perfect”, it’s an important step in the right direction.

“While the Iona Institute NI will continue to seek the full legal protection of the right to life for every unborn child, this bill is an important step in the right direction,” she said.

“We need to support their efforts to push back against this law. If the bill was more bracing and sought to protect more babies and it failed, it would almost legitimise the legislation,” she added.