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03 / 07 / 2009 - Northern Ireland Abortion Guidelines Challenged
Precious Life has sent a Briefing Paper to members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, explaining the dangers and flaws in the abortion guidelines issued by the Department of Health
In March 2009, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) issued the guidelines on performing abortions in Northern Ireland. This was as a result of legal action brought by the Family Planning Association of Northern Ireland (fpaNI) - a group campaigning for abortion-on-demand in Northern Ireland (the fpaNI actually receive funding from the DHSSPS.)
The DHSSPS claim their guidelines will not change the law relating to abortion in Northern Ireland. However, the guidelines are an attempt to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland “through the back door” by changing the interpretation of the law.
They are substantially the same as the first draft guidelines issued in January 2007, but rejected by the Northern Ireland Assembly in October 2007 when the motion was passed: “That this Assembly opposes the introduction of the proposed guidelines on the termination of pregnancy in Northern Ireland; believes that the guidelines are flawed; and calls on the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to abandon any attempt to make abortion more widely available in Northern Ireland.”
These guidelines are directly in conflict with the spirit of that motion. They are still flawed and will make abortion more widely available.
In summary, the guidelines:
- change the interpretation of the law relating to abortion in Northern Ireland;
- makes no clear statement of the illegality of abortion;
- do not acknowledge unborn children or their protection in law;
- make no distinction between ‘abortion’ and genuine life-saving treatment for a pregnant woman, which may result of her unborn child;
- do not reflect the reality of clinical assessment;
- permit abortion to treat mental illness;
- will allow GPs to make mental health assessments in relation to abortion;
- impose limits on the right to conscientious objection;
- permit abortion for babies that may have disabilities;
The guidelines are flawed beyond the level that would allow for correction. Therefore they are unacceptable, and must be scrapped. The guidelines must be re-drafted in full, with input from pro-life medical and legal experts to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated again.
Meanwhile, the High Court in Belfast has granted an application to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) for a judicial review of the guidelines.