MLAs today failed in a last ditch attempt to block radical new abortion laws from coming into force in Northern Ireland.
It means that from midnight tonight, abortion will become legal right up until the point at which the baby is capable of being born alive.
There will be next to no legal protections for women or babies and abortion will also be legal on the grounds of disability or gender.
New regulations to govern the provision of abortion will not be ready until the end of March 2020 which means there will be a five-month gap period, where abortion will be unregulated.
Correspondence from the Department of Justice and seen by CARE NI revealed that senior civil servants recognise there will be ‘obvious difficulties’ with the new abortion legislation.
It marks a radical shift from NI’s previous law on abortion which, according to robust research, had saved 100,000 lives.
The new laws were imposed on Northern Ireland by MPs and Peers at Westminster and a recent survey by Lucid Talk revealed the majority of people in NI do not support the new regime.
CARE Chief Executive, Nola Leach said:
“Today is a tragic day for anyone who supports the value of life in Northern Ireland.
“It’s tragic because devolution has been ignored and by-passed by MPs and Peers at Westminster and there will be long-term consequences of them doing so.
“It is doubly tragic because the new laws will endanger women and babies, rather than protecting them.
“This is not progress; it is a retrograde step.
“Abortion will now be legal in Northern Ireland on the grounds of disability and gender, there will be no effective regulation until at least March 2020 and even that is not guaranteed.
“The people of Northern Ireland deserve more than this.
“We continue to believe that both lives matter and our work to be a voice for the voiceless and to argue for a better way that upholds the dignity of both mothers and babies will go on.”
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Under the new laws, from midnight tonight, abortion will now become available in Northern Ireland right up to the point when the baby is capable of being born alive. Abortion on the grounds of gender and disability will be legal. There will be no notification requirements or inspection regime’s for clinics.
NI will also enter a five month ‘interim period’ where there will be no regulations governing the provision of abortion.
Senior Civil servants from the Department of Justice admitted the new abortion laws will create ‘obvious difficulties in emails which CARE NI obtained: https://www.care.org.uk/news/latest-news/doj-officials-admit-new-abortion-regime-will-lead-obvious-difficulties
A legal opinion commissioned by CARE by David Lock QC raised the alarming prospect that under the new laws, backstreet abortions could return: https://www.care.org.uk/news/latest-news/new-legal-opinion-highlights-major-flaws-new-abortion-laws
A recent survey by Lucid Talk showed that the majority in NI object to the new abortion laws: https://www.care.org.uk/news/latest-news/majority-ni-oppose-new-abortion-laws-according-new-survey
The Northern Ireland Office recently published official guidance on abortion provision which showed just how radical the new abortion laws are: https://www.care.org.uk/news/latest-news/new-abortion-guidelines-show-just-how-bad-nis-new-abortion-law-will-be