Northern Ireland Assembly Tells Health Minister to Scrap Pro-Abortion Rules

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 23, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Northern Ireland Assembly Tells Health Minister to Scrap Pro-Abortion Rules Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 23,

Belfast, Northern Ireland ( — The Legislative Assembly of Northern Ireland has voted to as the Health Minister to scrap the abortion guidelines a leading pro-abortion group sought there to expand the number of abortions done in the region. The guidelines were issued by the Department of Health in January.

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.

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.

The guidelines, which are still being written, were given in response to a lawsuit filed by the Family Planning Association, which wants to expand the number of abortions in Northern Ireland.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey told the Assembly yesterday that there is no desire on the part of the government there to extend the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland.

"Let me be clear that there is no question of me bringing about a situation where abortion is available "on demand" in Northern Ireland," he said.

The vote came after a top pro-life group delivered 100,000 petitions signed by people who don’t want the government there to promote abortion.

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

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."

Bernadette Smyth, the head of Precious Life, said such a vote would "send a clear message that the people of Northern Ireland demand protection for our unborn babies and their mothers from abortion."

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

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 –