Abortion reform in NI will leave a regulation ‘vacuum’

A pro-choice protest outside Belfast High Court (archive image)
A pro-choice protest outside Belfast High Court (archive image)
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A pro-life campaigner has claimed that planned decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland will leave unborn children with “no protections at all” and will see the Province become a “lawless jurisdiction”.

Peter Lynas, NI director of the Evangelical Alliance (EANI), said the move would put NI in a “vulnerable state of having no criminal legislation on the matter, but without even any regulations”.

Earlier this year, Parliament fast-tracked through radical changes to Northern Ireland’s abortion law, which will move it from being the most restrictive law in the UK to being the most liberal.

MPs overwhelmingly backed the motion, which will see NI’s abortion ban lifted unless devolution is restored by October 21.

Mr Lynas said: “Northern Ireland will have some of the most permissive abortion laws in the world - most of Europe does not permit abortion beyond 12 weeks. We are moving to complete decriminalisation, which will be worse than the 1967 Act in Great Britain.

“We need to remember that in GB 98% of all abortions in GB involve physically healthy babies and physically healthy women.”

He also claimed the process to bring about abortion reform was “deeply flawed” and had been passed with “very little scrutiny”.

“Westminster is in a state of chaos and one of the last things they did was to rush through radical changes to abortion law - which no NI MP voted in favour of,” he added.

“We are now left to deal with Westminster imposing bad laws without the consent of the people of NI.”

In response, pro-choice campaigner Goretti Horgan said the EANI was being “economical with the truth” by asserting there will be a regulatory vacuum on abortion after October 21.

She added: “True, there will be no NI specific regulations until March but that does not mean that there will be a vacuum as all our doctors, midwives and nurses are subject to the regulation of their professional bodies, including the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

“Decriminalisation does not mean deregulation.”

Meanwhile, thousands of people were expected to descend on Stormont Estate last night for a silent protest in response to the planned liberalisation of abortion laws.

Rally for Choice is to hold a demonstration at Writer’s Square in Belfast at 1.30pm today, while Precious Life will hold a march from Custom House Square at 2pm.