Decriminalising abortion in Northern Ireland will lead to chaos, a former senior midwife has warned.
In July, Westminster politicians voted to impose unregulated abortion on Northern Ireland if Stormont’s Executive is not restored by 21 October.
While politicians will then be required to introduce a new law by March 2020, there will be a five month period in which abortion will be effectively decriminalised.
“The new legislation could remove all meaningful legal protection for the unborn child”.Judith Smyth
Debbie Duncan, who lectures at the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast, said this would leave a “vacuum”, adding: “The implications of that are terrible”.
Duncan added that healthcare workers who object to abortion could be left “exposed” when the law changes.
She contrasted the change with working in England, where she was free to opt out from being involved in abortions due to conscience clauses in the legislation.
The new legislation, she said, “may leave me and my health care colleagues exposed in Northern Ireland where there is no clause on conscientious objection”.
Judith Smyth, a practising midwife, said: “We have had the privilege in NI to be involved in providing maternity care under a law which has carefully protected both lives about as far as possible”.
“The new legislation could remove all meaningful legal protection for the unborn child”.
She added: “As a midwife, and as a group of midwives, we know the unborn baby is a human life that deserves dignity and protection.”