Press release – Baroness O’Loan calls on NI executive to reform tomorrow to stop introduction of extreme abortion regime

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Baroness O’Loan calls on NI executive to reform tomorrow to stop the introduction of extreme abortion regime 

Baroness O’Loan has issued the following press release today ahead of the Monday midnight deadline for the Northern Ireland executive to reform tomorrow. She has asked Right To Life UK to distribute this press release to the media.

She has been joined by nearly 29,000 who have signed this petition: https://www.change.org/p/secretary-of-state-for-northern-ireland-stop-radical-abortion-change-being-imposed-on-the-northern-irish-people

Baroness O’Loan’s full press release is below:

It took 17 minutes on 18 July for the House of Commons to receive and agree the proposed change to NI’s abortion law.  Just 17 minutes. Those who passed the law did not represent us and they did not take time to work out the consequences of what they were doing.

If the Executive is not reformed on Monday, then this is what will happen until new law is introduced: 

  • Nobody will be investigated or face criminal prosecution for carrying out an abortion with the consent of the mother, up to 28 weeks of gestation, or earlier if the child is capable of being born alive. 
  • There will be no abortion specific laws regulating the conduct of individuals or institutions that provide abortion services in Northern Ireland between 22 October and 31March 2020, (unlike England and Wales) or earlier if new Regulations are passed before that date. 
  • Government has said that it anticipates that access to abortion services will not be routinely available in Northern Ireland during this period.

However:

  • Independent clinics will be able to carry out abortions if they wish to do so provided they are registered with the RQIA. Any clinic where services are provided by a medical practitioner who works for the NHS is not in law an independent clinic so is not required to be registered as such.   
  • There will be no abortion specific standards for abortion clinics to comply with (unlike England and Wales). 
  • There will be no abortion specific inspection (in England and Wales abortion clinics have had their services suspended for failing to meet the standards).
  • There will be no regulation of the activity of abortion (unlike England and Wales).  There will be no regulation of the procedure – no requirement for two doctors to agree to the abortion, no requirement for counselling before the abortion, no requirement for any Registration of the fact of the abortion (unlike England and Wales).
  • There will be no regulatory framework to prevent anyone carrying out an abortion outside a registered clinic provided the woman gives consent and no prescription only medicines are used. (unlike in England and Wales).
  • A person will be able to carry out abortions in any location even though they have no medical or nursing qualifications (unlike in England and Wales)
  • There will be confusion about access to medication for early abortions. Government has said that there is no expectation that GPs will prescribe medication for early medical abortion. There is no law to say that patients could not ask for such medication. In England and Wales GPs do not provide abortion services. 
  • Such medication should not be taken after nine weeks and six days of pregnancy because of the risks attaching to it. There will be no provision for its administration.
  • There will be no specific provision for conscientious objection to involvement in abortion by doctors, nurses of pharmacists despite the fact that 800 doctors wrote to the Secretary of State saying, “our consciences demand that we not be silent”. “We wish to make known our opposition to the imminent introduction of abortion in Northern Ireland”, and that “Our concern throughout is for pregnant mothers and their unborn children.”

This is why I and the nearly 29,000 people who have signed my Petition have asked our MLAs to go back into the Assembly and to get back to work. This is no political stunt. Tens of thousands of other people have marched, protested and demanded that the Assembly return. We need the Assembly to deal with what will happen to us during Brexit, to take the decisions necessary to allow our country to function again, to make our health, education and other services function properly again and most of all to stop this most radical abortion law being imposed on Northern Ireland. 

Only our MLAs working in the Assembly can stop this appalling situation.  

Baroness Nuala O’Loan

20 October 2019

nualaoloan@googlemail.com 

ENDS

Hundreds of people with Down’s syndrome and their families call on Sinn Féin and DUP to prevent extreme abortion regime

Hundreds of people with Down’s syndrome and their families have signed an open letter to Sinn Féin and DUP leaders demanding that they form an Executive and prevent extreme abortion legislation that would introduce abortion for babies with Down’s syndrome, right through to 28-weeks gestation.

The letter to Michelle O’Neill and Arlene Foster has already been signed by over 400 people from the Down’s syndrome community.

Currently, in Northern Ireland, disability-selective abortion for Down’s syndrome is not allowed and therefore, extremely rare. 

Figures from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland show that while 52 children with Down’s syndrome were born in 2016, in the same year only one child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales.

In the rest of the UK abortion is allowed up to birth if a baby is perceived to have a disability, including Down’s syndrome and cleft lip, the latest statistics show that 90% of babies found to have Down’s syndrome through screening are aborted.

Don’t Screen Us Out has also spoken out against attempts by Sinn Féin to shut down the debate around this highly discriminatory aspect of the proposed change to the law by threatening legal action against another political party which highlighted this change.

Lord Shinkwin, an advocate for disability equality, has also strongly denounced the plans to introduce disability-selective abortion to Northern Ireland, and noted that currently, “Northern Ireland is the safest place in the United Kingdom to be diagnosed with a disability”.

Shinkwin said that changing the law to allow abortion on grounds of disability in Northern Ireland sends a message to the people of Northern Ireland and to the disabled citizens of Northern Ireland that people who are born with a disability “are better off dead.”

Lynn Murray, spokeswoman for the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign said:

“There has been an amazing response to the letter to Sinn Féin and the DUP in a very short space of time because this is a matter of huge concern to those in the Down’s syndrome community.

We have seen attempts over the last few days by Sinn Féin to silence people highlighting the impact that the issue will have on the Down’s syndrome community by threatening legal action. We support any effort to help highlight the impact on our community of the law change and condemn any attempts to shut down the debate on this. We want to make it clear that our community will not be silenced on this issue – it is vital that this highly discriminatory aspect of the change in law is discussed openly and the public are aware of the impact that this change will have on the Down’s syndrome community.

“We are asking the Sinn Féin and the DUP not to turn back the clock on people with disabilities, not to leave this ‘burning injustice’ as their legacy, and to listen to the voices of our community who will be most affected by this law change. 

“We ask that Michelle O’Neil and Arlene Foster immediately put their differences aside and bring back Stormont to stop the imposing of these deeply discriminatory changes to the law that would bring disability-selective abortion to Northern Ireland.”

(Image credit: Adobe Stock: File #190401505)