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24 / 09 / 2012 - Precious Life say FPA abortion case was merely a `publicity stunt`
Precious Life were at the High Court today today (Monday 24th September) when the pro-abortion Family Planning Association (FPA) returned to Court in another attempt to force the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) to bring forward ‘guidelines on abortion’ in Northern Ireland.
Precious Life’s legal team are now considering the next course of action to challenge the pro-abortion FPA after they were granted leave to seek a judicial review.
In a statement to the media, Director of Precious Life Bernadette Smyth said, “The FPA case today was merely a publicity stunt. Even the Attorney General described it as a ‘glorified freedom of information request’.”
She added, “Precious Life has spent over 10 years battling the various drafts, issuing, and revising of abortion guidelines. We continually exposed how they changed the interpretation of the law; how they failed to acknowledge the unborn child; and how they made no distinction between abortion and genuine life-saving treatment for pregnant women. We have argued from the beginning that the guidelines would be used to legalise abortion ‘through the back door’. Our “Not In My Name” Campaign opposing the guidelines has involved collecting thousands of petition signatures from the public, letter writing to DHSSPS, and lobbying members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.”
“The most recent version of the flawed guidelines were withdrawn when the High Court judge ruled they were misleading. They were revised for public consultation in 2010, but Precious Life once again exposed the dangers.”
In the High Court today, the Attorney General John Larkin QC, responding on behalf of the department, argued that it was entitled to proceed with caution "on this difficult, fraught area".
The Attorney General claimed the FPA’s legal challenge was premature and misconceived, falling "somewhere between enforcement proceedings or a glorified freedom of information request".
However, Mr Justice Treacy granted leave to apply for a judicial review, with a full hearing listed for two days in January.
Last week, the Health Minister Mr Edwin Poots MLA, replied to a question from pro-abortion Assembly member Anna Lo, who asked when his Department intended to publish guidance and his assessment of fact that there is still no guidance in place.
Mr Poots said he was unable to provide a date for publication of guidance, stating, “This is a complex issue and one that requires careful consideration. I must ensure that any guidance produced for health professionals is robust and compatible with criminal law. I will only produce guidance when I am satisfied that this has been achieved.”
Bernadette Smith added, “Precious Life welcome the Minister’s statement which acknowledges that guidance must be compatible with the law in Northern Ireland. The core purpose of the law against abortion in Northern Ireland is for the protection of the unborn child.” [see: Historic Day for Northern Ireland as New Legal Document clarifies law on Abortion]
Bernadette Smyth concluded, “The battle continues. Precious Life will challenge and oppose every attempt by the FPA to legalise the killing of unborn children. We will continue lobbying the Northern Ireland Assembly members to ensure that any ‘guidance’ issued by the DHSSPS will be used only to clearly outline the illegality of abortion, and fully acknowledge the right to life of our unborn children and their protection in law.”