Since Paul Givan’s Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill was introduced at Stormont on 16 February, a number of claims have been made about the bill and, sadly, CARE’s support for it. Here we respond to certain claims that have been made. We do so in a spirit of grace and love, not hate and anger. We all want a life-affirming law and a culture where abortion is unthinkable. At the heart of all CARE does is a belief that every person is made in God’s image and this means life is precious and to be valued.
Claim 1: This Bill would legitimise the current abortion legislation
Response: Current abortion legislation was legitimised when Westminster imposed and approved abortion regulations on Northern Ireland on 17 June 2020. Whilst we argued strongly that politicians in Westminster should not have forced abortion laws on NI, they did not listen. Seeking to amend the Regulations does not give legitimacy to the process by which these Regulations were made. An amendment, such as this Bill, simply recognises the current legal reality, and focusses on changing an aspect of the Regulations where there is majority support in the Assembly to do so.
Claim 2: Nobody will be saved by this Bill
Response: If this bill saves one life then it is worth supporting. At CARE we believe that every single life is worth saving, that is why this Bill matters. This Bill is also a crucial step towards addressing discriminatory attitudes in society towards people with disabilities. By addressing these attitudes, this Bill may have a far broader impact as well as preventing late-term abortions where the baby has a non-fatal disability such as Down’s syndrome.
Claim 3: If this Bill passes, we can forget about repeal
Response: We are not giving up that easily. This Bill represents the first step to changing abortion law in Northern Ireland. We will do all we can to continue to seek further opportunities to take steps towards life-affirming laws again in NI.
Claim 4: On the back of this Bill, we are handing full commissioning on a silver platter.
Response: Ministers at Westminster have already indicated that they will take further action to ensure commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland, even before the outcome of the current legal challenge to non-commissioning led by the NIHRC. Sadly, it is only a matter of time and the truth is that this Bill will not affect that process.
Claim 5: The Givan Bill that CARE is supporting is not biblical, it’s secular
Response: At CARE we work towards a society where abortion is unthinkable, and women and babies are protected. Pushing back on disability discrimination is not ‘secular’ but totally consistent with the biblical worldview which values every human life, from conception through to natural end. We are all ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’(Ps139)
Claim 6: The Bill that is being supported by CARE is not providential, its pragmatic, it is making compromises with evil, and demonstrates a lack of faith that God is able to alter these laws
Response: At CARE, we firmly believe that God is the sovereign Creator of all things, nothing is beyond his providential care. We are called to be salt and light amid a hostile culture. What happened last year when Westminster imposed extreme abortion laws on Northern Ireland was evil. This bill will repeal a narrow part of that Westminster law. As such, it is far from a compromise, it is the first effort to push back. At CARE, we have faith that God will open and provide further opportunities, to save more lives, in the weeks and months ahead.
Claim 7: An incrementalist approach will not work
Response: An incrementalist approach introduces change gradually, taking the view that in order to change the law on abortion in a hostile political and cultural climate, one must do so step by step. This incrementalist approach was successfully adopted by social reformers such as William Wilberforce, who both advocated for laws to end slavery entirely, as well as supporting Bills which improved the condition of slaves gradually. William Wilberforce did not abolish slavery by one single act or repeal but by changing the law, bit by bit, over almost 50 years, in an incrementalist way. The truth is all groups want the same thing but differ on how to get there. Around the world, the incrementalist approach has been proven to save lives.
 Human Rights Commission launches legal action on lack of abortion services in NI - The Irish News, (1) Amanda Ferguson on Twitter: "I contacted the NIO regarding abortion services provision in NI. A UK Government spokesperson said: https://t.co/xbywG5FPGc" / Twitter Written questions and answers - Written questions, answers and statements - UK Parliament
 https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/incrementalism, Parliament abolishes the slave trade - UK Parliament, Wilberforce makes the case - UK Parliament The first parliamentary debates - UK Parliament