Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister has said he will consult on weakening the Province’s abortion laws to allow unborn babies with fatal abnormalities to be aborted.
Unlike the rest of the UK, abortion is only legal in Northern Ireland to save the life of a mother.
Justice Minister David Ford told BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show that he hopes to start a consultation on the “potential for change” by next Easter.
“What we’re talking about is a very narrow change”, he argued, which will look at the “issues of fatal foetal abnormality and possibly some marginally wider issues. We’re not talking about a widespread opening of the door”, he insisted.
Abortions on the grounds of rape and incest are also expected to be covered in the consultation.
The issue hit the headlines in October when two women spoke out about wanting to abort their unborn babies after being informed of their fatal abnormalities.
A Department of Justice statement said: “David Ford believes there is a question whether, in certain difficult but closely-defined cases, the law’s line has been drawn in the right place. The consultation will therefore focus on cases of terminal foetal abnormality.”
Termination of pregnancy for foetal abnormality also leads to severe post traumatic stress for the mother, warned Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship.
“Rather than leading to psychological well-being, termination of pregnancy for fetal disability is an emotionally traumatic major life event which leads to severe posttraumatic stress response and intense grief reactions that are still detectable some years later”, he said.
Describing Northern Ireland’s resilience to changing the law Liam Gibson, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) in Northern Ireland, said: “The people and politicians of Northern Ireland have shown, time and time again, that they reject pro-abortion attempts to change Northern Ireland’s abortion law.
“I am confident that they will do so again”, he declared. “This consultation is not the result of public opinion but the result of a propaganda campaign orchestrated by the pro-abortion lobby and its willing accomplices in the media, most notably Stephen Nolan.”
“Abortion is not a compassionate response to the diagnosis of fatal disability. Babies with fatal disabilities are no less human than other children and share the same right to life as all other human beings,” Gibson added.