Northern Ireland Pro-Life Group Sends Govt 100,000 Petitions Against Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 22, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Northern Ireland Pro-Life Group Sends Govt 100,000 Petitions Against Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 22,

Belfast, Northern Ireland ( — The leading pro-life group in Northern Ireland is slated to deliver 100,000 petitions signed by people who don’t want the government there to promote abortion. The petitions will be delivered to members of the Legislative Assembly and First Minister Ian Paisley ahead of a debate on the topic.

Democratic Unionist Party members Iris Robinson and Jeffrey Donaldson have proposed a bill asking MLAs to make sure there is no compromising the limits currently placed on abortions.

Unlike England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland is not covered by the 1967 Abortion Act that made abortion legal on demand in the rest of the UK.

As a result, women in Northern Ireland travel elsewhere to have abortions and pro-life groups in the region want to make sure abortion doesn’t come there.

Robinson told the Belfast Telegraph newspaper that the number of signed petitions shows the clear will of the people.

"People in Northern Ireland do not want to see abortions more freely available within the province and that is why Jeffrey and I are sponsoring this important motion through the Assembly," she said.

She said of her bill: "I expect it will receive high levels of cross-party support and I hope that the Minister for Health, Michael McGimpsey, will act in accordance with the wishes of the public and the Assembly in this matter."

Meanwhile, Bernadette Smyth, the head of Precious Life, told the newspaper, "We are confident that the majority of our Assembly members will vote in support of the motion."

She said such a vote "will send a clear message that the people of Northern Ireland demand protection for our unborn babies and their mothers from abortion."

The petitions back the bill filed in the Assembly and are in opposition to draft guidelines on abortion which were issued by the Department of Health in January.

The bills call on the Health Minister to abandon "any attempt to make abortion more widely available in Northern Ireland."

Precious Life says the guidelines will change how the law on abortion is interpreted and legalize abortion in Northern Ireland “through the back door.”

“This motion against abortion is currently a ‘No Day Named Motion’ so it could be debated anytime within the next few weeks," Smyth previously told

Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland unless the life of the mother is in danger or the continuation of the pregnancy would cause the woman very serious health issues.

In January, the health department responded to the pro-abortion Family Planning Association, which wants to expand the health definition and allow more abortions to be done.

But Smyth’s group worries any change in the definition will essentially make abortion legal and expand the handful of abortions currently done.

“Our legal advisors have informed us that although the Department of Health guidelines cannot change the law on abortion in Northern Ireland, they will change how the law is interpreted," she told

Related web sites:
Precious Life –