Abortion Advocates Want to Weaken North Ireland’s Pro-Life Laws
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
May 25, 2004
Belfast, Ireland (LifeNews.com) — The High Court in Belfast has been hearing testimony from abortion advocates seeking to weaken Northern Ireland’s restrictions on abortion.
Appealing last year’s ruling rejecting the Family Planning Association’s plea for less strict abortion regulations. Northern Ireland, which was excluded from the 1967 Abortion Act which declared abortion legal in the U.K., only allows abortion to be performed when the mother’s life is in danger or to prevent a serious threat to her physical or mental health.
The proceedings on the issue are expected to take place over the next three days, and the FPA is hoping that guidelines will be set as to when exactly an abortion can be performed.
The FPA claims that approximately 40,000 women have been forced to seek abortion in Britain, paying about £1,000 to private businesses. The Department of Health has stated that only four out of 8,000 Northern Ireland women who had abortions performed in Britain in the past five years could have had the abortions legally performed in Northern Ireland.
Last year, Justice Brian Kerr, now Lord Chief Justice, said he believed Northern Ireland’s abortion laws were clear, and rejected the FPA’s application to force the province’s Department of Health to publish guidelines. He said further legalizing abortion is a job for the legislature and not the courts.
”None of the grounds on which the judicial review has been sought has been made out,” he said. ”The application must be dismissed.”
Pro-life groups in the UK were delighted with the decision.
"The pro-abortion lobby, represented in this case by the Family Planning Association, wants to make abortion widely available in Northern Ireland and claims that the law here is unclear," said Betty Gibson, chairman of the for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) in Northern Ireland.
"SPUC’s case is that the law is perfectly clear. The law on abortion in Northern Ireland gives considerable protection to unborn children which is what the overwhelming majority of people here want," Gibson explained.
Nuala Scarisbrick of the UK pregnancy help group Life, said "’This is good news for women in the Province and a victory for the pro-life cause."
John Smeaton, national director of SPUC in Britain and Northern Ireland, who was present for the judgment in Belfast, said: "We in SPUC will continue to do everything we can to represent the will of Northern Ireland’s people by arguing against the FPA’s case."