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30 / 11 / 2009 - Precious Life welcome withdrawal of abortion guidelines
Watch UTV News Report here
Precious Life has welcomed the High Court decision to order the withdrawal of abortion guidelines issued by the Department of Health (DHSSPS).
A Judicial Review of the Guidelines was heard in October on the grounds they were misleading and legally inaccurate. Today, the High Court ruled the guidelines be withdrawn. The court found the guidelines failed to deal properly with conscientious objection to abortion and counselling on abortion. The judge said the guidelines were open to misinterpretation; the language was "ambiguous" and left doctors and staff unclear as to what was expected of them. The judge said the guidance needed to be absolutely clear otherwise it represented "a trap to the unwary".
The court decision today is a victory for our unborn children. Precious Life has been running a Petition Campaign calling for the withdrawal of these Guidelines. Our assessment that the guidelines were legally and medically flawed has been vindicated. They were an attempt to change the interpretation of the law and would have effectively legalised abortion in Northern Ireland through the back door.”
The guidelines stated that health professional do not have the right to have a conscientious objection to take part in an abortion. However, the judge has ruled that they do have that right, on religious or moral grounds.
The judge also ruled that the Department of Health’s guidance on abortion counselling was flawed because people could offer counselling which is arguably, unlawful. He stated that if a woman developed a life-threatening complication in pregnancy then she needs to be medically assessed, not offered counselling on abortion which is inappropriate in such circumstances.
The judge also recognised that abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland. Any medical procedure that may cause the death of an unborn child is only permissible in very rare circumstances when the mother’s life is in grave danger.
Precious Life will continue to campaign vigorously to ensure that if any future guidance is issued by Department of Health, it must be a simple clear statement of the illegality of abortion, acknowledging the right to life of our unborn children and their protection in law.