Abortion debate: SoS urged to maintain current restrictions on terminations

Secretary of State Karen Bradley MP
Secretary of State Karen Bradley MP

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has come under pressure from people born with serious conditions to maintain restrictions on abortion.

Karen Bradley has received extensive and emotive correspondence about terminations since last spring when the Republic of Ireland voted to legalise the procedure during early pregnancy.

Among the letter-writers was a successful businessman with cerebral palsy – a movement disorder usually caused by an injury to the brain before, during or shortly after birth.

He wrote: “I believe that if it is legalised for foetal abnormality this will open a flood-gate to them all, abortion on demand, and we will end up with staggering figures such as mainland Great Britain where, in 2016, 98% of abortions were for social reasons.

“I was born with cerebral palsy and while I do depend on others I make a big contribution to Northern Ireland as I am involved with many groups and sit (on) numerous trust panels.

“I employ four staff members and I’m actively involved in my community.

“I do pray that any decisions on this will be done with much wisdom.”

The 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.

Terminations are only permitted if a woman’s life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health.

Women from Northern Ireland have been offered the procedure on the NHS in other parts of the UK.

Campaigners are pressing for it to be legalised in Northern Ireland but that has prompted a backlash from letter-writers to the Government, as disclosed in a freedom of information response.

Another writer asked Mrs Bradley to confirm her status as a Christian.

“It would seem that the most vulnerable in our society, the unborn child, is not permitted human rights, that he/she is something like an in-growing toe nail, as one charming abortion activist described ‘it’, that can be removed as easily and with no more compunction.

“The lesson to take from the liberal/left social agenda is - do not be vulnerable in today’s Brave New World (Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel), do not be unborn or old and ill, mentally or physically, or disabled or Down’s, because the abortionists and the euthanasia or assisted suicide proponents will have you in their sights.”

Another correspondent said calls for a referendum on the issue should be rejected since such a procedure had never before been used in the UK to decide an issue of policy.

“There is no principled reason to allow a referendum on this issue and then to deny one on other issues of concern in Northern Ireland.”