Revised guidelines on “termination of pregnancy” issued by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) are another attempt to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland ‘through the back door’.
The DHSSPS originally issued draft abortion guidelines in January 2007. In response, Precious Life launched the NOT IN MY NAME Campaign. This resulted in the the Northern Ireland Assembly passing a motion opposing the guidelines in October 2007.
The DHSSPS have now issued revised guidelines for a 10 week consultation period from 16 July to 22 September 2008.
The DHSSPS' revised guidelines are nothing more than a rehash of the guidelines that were scrapped after the Assembly rejected them last October.
The guidelines are skewed in favour of performing, rather that NOT performing, abortions. The DHSSPS even state in their press release that the aim of the guidelines is to clarify when abortion is legal in Northern Ireland. However, the law in Northern Ireland is very clear. Killing an unborn child is illegal and a criminal offence. The only exception is when the child dies as a result of a doctor's treatment to save the mother's life. These guidelines grossly exaggerate this exception, suggesting abortion is legal on grounds of mental health or suicide.
The DHSSPS claim their guidelines will not change the law relating to abortion in Northern Ireland. They will however change the interpretation of the law. These guidelines will effectively legalise abortion through the back door, allowing abortion on demand, right up to birth.
The DHSSPS has placed public notices in Northern Ireland's daily newspapers asking for responses to their abortion guidelines. Responses will be accepted on or before Monday 22 September 2008. TAKE ACTION - Contact the DHSSP demanding that they acknowledge the legal protection unborn babies have in Northern Ireland and stop trying to create legal loopholes to allow unborn babies to be killed in our hospitals.
Responses can be returned by email, fax or by post to:
Post: Family Policy Unit
Here are some points you can use in your response :
The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) claim their guidelines will not change the law relating to abortion in Northern Ireland. However, the guidelines could change the 'interpretation' of the law, effectively legalising abortion 'through the back door'.
The consultation document was issued during the Assembly's summer recess, and the July / August holiday period. 10 weeks is just too short a time for MLAs, the Assembly Health Committee, interested organisations and individuals to make their responses. The DHSSPS has even acknowledged that 10 weeks is shorter than the normal consultation period.
NOTE: There is no legal requirement for finalised guidelines to be issued by October 2008
The guidelines are skewed in favour of performing, rather that NOT performing, abortions. The DHSSPS state in their press release that the aim of the guidelines is to clarify when abortion is legal in Northern Ireland. But the law in Northern Ireland is very clear. Killing an unborn child is illegal. The only exception is when the child dies as a unintentional result of a doctor's treatment to save a pregnant woman's life. These guidelines grossly exaggerate this exception of "saving the mother's life" - for example - suggesting abortion would be is legal if a pregnant woman was suicidal
NOTE: Abortion can be categorized as ‘direct’ or ‘indirect’ — but there is a fundamental difference between them -
"DIRECT" ABORTION is when a doctor commits the act with the specific and deliberate intent to kill the child. No attempt is made to save the life of the child.
"INDIRECT ABORTION" is when a doctor treats a pregnant woman for a life-threatening medical condition and her child dies as an unintentional side effect. Every attempt is made to save the life of the child.
Doctors in Northern Ireland are not prevented from providing treatment to pregnant mothers which may result in an ‘indirect abortion’, e.g. delivering a child early in a case of pre-eclampsia but the child tragically dies.
The DHSSPS say they are required to issue guidance on termination of pregnancy following a Judicial Review. However, no reference is made in the guidelines to Lord Justice NICHOLSON's recommendation that - "This judgment is written in the hope that the department will seek to reduce the number of women and girls going away to seek an abortion and to encourage those seeking an abortion in Northern Ireland to make a different choice."
The word "baby" or "unborn child" is not mentioned anywhere in the guidelines. When dealing with a pregnant woman, the Department of Health must acknowledge her unborn baby as the second patient.