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The truth about Northern Ireland's abortion law

James Mildred


Last year, Westminster imposed new abortion laws on Northern Ireland, overturning the previous, life-protecting law and replacing it with laws even more extreme than in Great Britain.

Under Northern Ireland's previous law, abortion was only legal in certain, carefully defined situations.

Robust research showed that thanks to this law, there are 100,000 people alive today in Northern Ireland who otherwise would not be.

Depending on who you listen to, you’ll hear different accounts of what the law on abortion in Northern Ireland actually involves.

For the avoidance of doubt, the following summarises what the Westminster imposed law permits and draws out some potential scenarios of what could happen.

  • The new law goes much further than the 1967 Act. A woman seeking an abortion up to 12 weeks into pregnancy doesn’t have to give their reason – which might for example, be that the baby is the ‘wrong’ sex.
  • The new abortion laws allow abortion on demand until 24 weeks.
  • The new laws allow abortion before and up to, and even during birth, for a baby with any kind of disability, even correctable conditions like cleft palette.

Here’s some of the things this means:

  • The new law does not prevent sex-selective abortion before 12 weeks.
  • The new law discriminates against the unborn on the basis of disability.
  • Abortion could happen in cases of Down’s syndrome
  • Abortion could happen for treatable disabilities such as club foot or cleft lip

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In any pregnancy, both the woman and preborn baby have inherent value and dignity, by virtue of being made in the image of God. CARE is passionately pro-woman and pro-life.

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