Proposals regarding the framework governing abortion, now under a six week consultation in Northern Ireland have been dubbed by pro-life groups as “catastrophic”.
The current consultation will allow the public to share their views until December 16 regarding how the new laws should operate. Pro-life groups are encouraging people to make their voice heard and make a submission in order to influence final laws.
Under consideration is an abortion time limit of 22-24 weeks when a woman’s physical or mental health is deemed at risk, which pro-life groups say will lead to “abortion on demand” during that period if it operates like abortion law in England and Wales.
Right to Life UK’s Catherine Robinson said the proposals go far beyond what the Government was required to do by the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2019, voted on in Westminster.
“The proposals open up abortion provision to any healthcare professional, which could include pharmacists, nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants, art therapists and dieticians. It also drops the requirement that two doctors sign off on an abortion,” she says.
It is also proposed that Northern Ireland would mirror UK legislation regarding conscientious objection which does not include “any ancillary, administrative and managerial tasks that might be associated with that treatment”.
Pro-life group Precious Life said that “this consultation will allow the people here to finally have a say on the legal framework being proposed”.
“Despite the truly catastrophic nature of these guidelines, Precious Life welcome this platform, which will give the people of Northern Ireland an opportunity to express their views.
“Although this consultation sadly will not be able to stop this law, the consultation is still extremely important in shaping the regulatory framework which likely have an impact on the number of abortions taking place.”
The full consultation document can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-new-legal-framework-for-abortion-services-in-northern-ireland
Abortion provision in the North of Ireland is currently operating under guidelines given to medical professionals for an interim period until March 31.