Abortion: Poll finds majority in NI opposes new law on termination of disabled babies

Most people in Northern Ireland do not support abortion to birth for cleft lip, cleft palate or Down’s syndrome, a new poll has found.

Sunday, 14th June 2020, 3:15 pm
Protestors at Stormont last year opposed the introduction of abortion legislation in Northern Ireland

The poll was carried out by Belfast-based company Lucid Talk on behalf of the organisaton Christian Action Research and Education Northern Ireland (CARE NI).

It found that nearly three-quarters of respondents (72%) were against abortion to birth for otherwise health babies with cleft palate or cleft lip.

Just over two-thirds (67%) of respondents were either strongly opposed (42%) or opposed (25%) to abortion for Down’s syndrome between 24 weeks gestation up to birth.

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There were 1,878 respondents to the poll, which was carried out between June 3-5.

New abortion regulations drawn up by Westminster during the power-sharing deadlock at Stormont, came into force in March.

The Northern Ireland Assembly passed a motion by 46-40 rejecting the changes.

In the two votes held, 75 MLAs voted against the provisions in the regulations allowing abortion for non-fatal disabilities.

CARE NI, in a statement following the Lucid Talk poll, said findings “highlighted yet again that Westminster is out of touch and the issue of abortion law should be returned to the NI Assembly”.

Members of the House of Lords will vote on the regulations on Monday.

Lord Shinkwin, who was born with Osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare genetic brittle bone disease, has tabled a motion which, if supported, will mean the regulations will fall.

“This polling demonstrates how out of touch the government is with public opinion in driving these outdated and discriminatory regulations through Parliament,” he said.

“Although technically the regulations only relate to Northern Ireland, the whole UK Parliament is being invited to endorse them and to thereby legitimise disability discrimination.”

DUP MP Carla Lockhart said: “These polling results underline yet again why it is monstrous that the UK government should seek to impose a discriminatory abortion regime on Northern Ireland.

“In crafting regulations that say it is OK to terminate viable unborn babies between 24 weeks gestation and full-term because they have a non-fatal disability, while saying that viable babies of exactly the same age should be protected from this because they don’t have a disability, the law says loud and clear that the lives of people with non-fatal disabilities are less valuable than those with fatal disabilities, with fatal consequences.”