Abortion Clinic - Copyright Burger / Phanie / REX

Abortion and same-sex marriage become legal in Northern Ireland

Mon 21 Oct 2019
By Ruth Sax

A final attempt to stop abortion law changes in Northern Ireland has failed, with the law changing at midnight on Monday.

Unionist parties, who oppose the upcoming liberalisation, triggered the assembly's recall with a petition.

But politicians were told the assembly could not do any business until a speaker was elected with cross-community backing.

 

 

It was the first time the Assembly had sat in Northern Ireland for over two years.

New regulations to govern the provision of abortion will not be ready until the end of March 2020 which means there will be a five-month gap period, where abortion will be unregulated.

It marks a radical shift from NI's previous near ban on abortion, which it's estimated has saved 100,000 lives.

Evangelical Alliance's Northern Ireland's director, Peter Lynas told Premier that the majority of people in Northern Ireland did not want abortion to become legalised and told Premier they wanted to "honour the unborn child" by keeping abortion illegal in Northern Ireland.

Lynas was at Stormont today and told Premier "these changes going through are a tragedy."

 

PA

 

The new laws were introduced in Northern Ireland by MPs and peers at Westminster, with a recent survey by Lucid Talk revealing that the majority of people in NI do not support the intervention.

Christian charity, CARE's chief executive, Nola Leach said: "Today is a tragic day for anyone who supports the value of life in Northern Ireland.

"It's tragic because devolution has been ignored and by-passed by MPs and Peers at Westminster and there will be long-term consequences of them doing so.

"It is doubly tragic because the new laws will endanger women and babies, rather than protecting them.

"This is not progress; it is a retrograde step.

"Abortion will now be legal in Northern Ireland on the grounds of disability and gender, there will be no effective regulation until at least March 2020 and even that is not guaranteed.

"The people of Northern Ireland deserve more than this.

"We continue to believe that both lives matter and our work to be a voice for the voiceless and to argue for a better way that upholds the dignity of both mothers and babies will go on."

Rt Rev Dr William Henry, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said: "It has always been the position of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland that decisions on devolved matters, including the sensitive issues of abortion and same sex marriage should remain the responsibility of our locally elected MLAs.

"While we deeply regret that the consequence of this continued stalemate will be the introduction of an abortion regime far beyond what people may imagine, the failure of this attempt to restore devolution means that many other pressing concerns will continue to remain unaddressed which affect the lives of everyone in our society, not least the marginalised and vulnerable.

"Our focus now turns to engaging with the Northern Ireland Office consultation on the regulations that have now to be implemented concerning the change in the definition of marriage, the abortion of unborn children, and the important rights of conscience for those in the medical and nursing professions.

 

Jamie Wallace and Ian McDowall on the BBC's Songs of Praise

 
 
"Although this window of opportunity has now passed we call on party leaders to renew efforts to restore devolution. The impending cliff edge with regard to the cessation of welfare mitigation payments should be a further incentive for our local elected representatives to return to government.

"We continue to pray for our elected representatives and will engage with them in the coming weeks over the impending legislative changes."

 

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