Pro-choice MLA Trevor Lunn: New abortion rules ‘grotesque’, ‘immoral’ and ‘not humane’

A MLA who is broadly pro-choice has nonetheless described the new abortion rules for Northern Ireland as “grotesque”, “immoral”, and “not humane”.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 2:42 pm
Trevor Lunn quit the Alliance Party earlier this year but has declined to be drawn on the reasons why

Independent Assemblyman Trevor Lunn was speaking the News Letter today, one day after the new regulations entered into force in the Province.

Mr Lunn, who left Alliance earlier this year and intends not to stand for election again, has previously spoken about his partner choosing an abortion due to a grave foetal abnormality.

The new rules allow for:

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• Abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks;

• Abortion on grounds of wellbeing of the mother (including mental health) up to 24 weeks;

• And abortion up to full term in cases where a child would be born with “a mental or physical disability which is likely to significantly limit either the length or quality of the child’s life”.

Mr Lunn has previously unsuccessfully attempted to introduce a law through the Assembly to allow for termination in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

And in 2016, he gave an emotional address to MLAs saying his partner had twice faced serious problems during pregnancy.

One pregnancy did not make it to term, and a second also faced serious problems.

He had said: “The doctors advised us that the baby was not likely to survive... Our decision was to obtain a termination.

“In the period before we were able to organise that termination, I would like to think that either the good Lord or Mother Nature intervened, because the baby came away of its own accord.”

When it comes to the new abortion rules, he told the Assembly he is “comfortable with it, except for one issue... the issue of severe foetal impairment”.

He went on to describe the clause allowing open-ended abortion in cases of disability as “disgraceful” and “immoral”.

Elaborating on this to the News Letter, he said: “Our whole thrust was fatal foetal abnormalities – where there’s no hope of life outside the womb. So to see this line inserted now in the bill was quite a surprise to me.

“It refers to I think ‘serious foetal impairment’ being a justification for abortion right up ‘til full term... There is no reason for that. If a child has an expectation of life, whether it has an impairment or otherwise, as far as I’m concerned there’s no justification for the abortion.

“It’s open-ended. It’s not defined. Down’s Syndrome is the obvious one. But there’s other impairments that people suffer from which you’re certainly not going to die from.

“I just find the whole thing grotesque... It’s not humane.”

He said it was “only because Jim Allister was able to raise this as a matter of the day that is was even discussed at all” in the Assembly, where 30 minutes was set aside on Tuesday.

Though DUP figures and the TUV have indicated a willingness to fight the new rules, Mr Lunn is not convinced this can be done via the Assembly, believing any change may have to come via Westminster – where the new law originated from last year, over the heads of MLAs at Stormont.

This is a much harder prospect, since it is overwhelmingly dominated by pro-choice MPs.

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