MLAs to vote on weakening abortion laws in NI

The Northern Ireland Assembly is set to vote next week on controversial plans to liberalise abortion laws in the Province.

Green MLA Steven Agnew and MLA Basil McCrea of the NI21 Party have tabled amendments to the Justice (No.2) Bill that would allow abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and sexual crime.

Alliance MLAs Trevor Lunn and Stewart Dickson have also put forward amendments to legalise abortion for fatal foetal abnormalities, and fellow Alliance MLA Anna Lo has tabled an amendment on allowing abortion in instances of sexual crime.

Overwhelming opposition

But the Government’s own consultation on the issue revealed that the public overwhelmingly opposes weaker abortion legislation.

Fewer than one per cent of respondents to Justice Minister David Ford’s consultation last year were in favour of changing the law to allow abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and sexual crime.

In November, a High Court judge ruled that Northern Ireland’s abortion law is “incompatible” with human rights legislation, after a judicial review was brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Profoundly disappointing

In a lengthy judgment, the High Court judge said that not allowing abortion when an unborn baby has a severely life-limiting condition is a “gross interference” with a woman’s “personal autonomy”.

He also said not letting the mother have an abortion in cases of sexual crime places a “disproportionate burden” on her.

The Attorney General John Larkin QC is appealing the ruling, which he described as “profoundly disappointing”.

Choose Life

MLAs are set to vote on amendments to weaken abortion law on 9 February.

The Christian Institute’s Choose Life series shares moving stories of people who have rejected abortion in cases of severely life-limiting disabilities and rape.

Bonnie and Phil Walker’s daughter Grace was diagnosed with the severely life-limiting condition anencephaly. She died 15 minutes after being born.

Pure love

They had been told it was not a “viable” pregnancy and were offered an abortion.

But Phil described the 15 minutes they spent with their daughter as “15 minutes of pure love”, with Bonnie affirming: “There’s a purpose for every life, no matter how short”.

And Gary Moore, who was conceived through the violent rape of his 17-year-old mother, shared his deep joy in life and his gratitude to his mother for not giving in to pressure to abort him.

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