A human rights quango is threatening legal action against Northern Ireland’s abortion law, in a move described as “ill-timed and unnecessary” by the Department of Justice.
The taxpayer-funded Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) says the department’s consultation on weakening the law to allow abortion in cases of sexual crime and fatal foetal abnormality “does not commit” to making “necessary” changes.
In a statement, the quango said it had “repeatedly” told the department its view that the existing law – permitting abortion only if the mother’s life is at risk – is “a violation of human rights”.
But a Department of Justice spokesman said the “correct forum” for the Commission to make its views known is the public consultation.
“An appropriate process is therefore under way which is seeking to review and adjust the current law.
“The legal action being taken by the NIHRC is therefore ill-timed and unnecessary”, he added.
And pro-life group Precious Life said it planned to fight the legal challenge “to ensure that the rights of the unborn child will be protected in law, policy and practice in Northern Ireland”.
Precious Life’s Director, Bernadette Smyth, said: “This move of the NIHRC is undemocratic, and Precious Life calls on the Northern Ireland Assembly to vigorously oppose any change in legislation that would destroy Northern Ireland’s unborn children.”
The Christian Institute has highlighted a number of stories from people affected by the life and death decisions of abortion in its Choose Life series.
These included an account from Gary Moore, who was conceived through rape and is grateful that his mother did not give in to pressure to abort him.
And Bonnie and Phil Walker shared how they chose life for their daughter Grace, who was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality but lived for a “precious” 15 minutes.
The Department of Justice consultation closes on 17 January 2015.
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission successfully challenged adoption laws in 2012, which has forced gay adoption on the Province.
As a result, earlier this month the Roman Catholic Church reluctantly cut its ties with the largest specialist adoption agency in Northern Ireland because they are now “legally obliged” to process applications from same-sex and unmarried heterosexual couples.