A Peer has resigned from the British Medical Association’s medical ethics committee because it supports extending Britain’s abortion law to Northern Ireland.
Baroness Nuala O’Loan, who served as the first Police Ombudsman in the Province, told a Roman Catholic newspaper that she “had no option but to resign”, having been appointed to the committee in July.
“I believe in the sanctity and sacredness of human life so I could not commit to anything inconsistent with that position”, she explained.
The BMA’s medical ethics committee debates issues on the relationship between the medical profession, the public and the state, alongside liaising with the General Medical Council.
The committee stated it favoured extending the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland, after which Baroness O’Loan announced her resignation.
She said: “I had to resign as I believe it is a flawed piece of legislation.
“I felt there was no scope for change even if I was to debate the decision”.
In England, Scotland and Wales, abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks of pregnancy on certain grounds, including risk to the mental health of the mother. However, abortions can be carried out up to full term if the baby is found to have a disability.
In Northern Ireland, abortion is only permitted if the mother’s life is in danger.
The Department of Justice has launched a consultation on weakening the law in the Province, to allow abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and sexual crime.
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The Christian Institute has highlighted a number of stories from people affected by the life and death decisions of abortion in its Choose Life series.
These include an account from Gary Moore, who was conceived through rape and is grateful that his mother did not give in to pressure to abort him.
And Bonnie and Phil Walker shared how they chose life for their daughter Grace, who was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality but lived for a “precious” 15 minutes.
Baroness O’ Loan, who is a highly regarded human rights lawyer, was appointed to sit in the House of Lords in 2009 as an independent Peer.