The British Medical Association (BMA) has pass a motion to remove almost all legal safeguards surrounding abortion and has called for the extension of abortion to Northern Ireland.
In a vote at the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) in Belfast, medical professionals voted to repeal sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, as well as extend the provision of abortion to Northern Ireland.
This vote was essentially a restatement of the BMA ARM in 2017 which also voted to remove all legal safeguards in abortion legislation.
There are strong pro-life protections in Northern Ireland where abortion remains a devolved issue. This means that the 1967 Abortion Act does not apply and there are 100,000 people alive today because of this.
Speeches opposed to the motion to extend abortion provision to Northern Ireland focused on the need to respect the fact that abortion remains a devolved issue – the decision as to the abortion law in Northern Ireland remains a decision for the Parliamentary Assembly there, and it is not the prerogative of Westminster or other lobby groups to force such legislation on the region.
The most recent vote on this in 2016, showed that a clear majority of the Northern Ireland Assembly, upheld the law on abortion as it currently stands and the majority of women in Northern Ireland remain opposed to anyone other than the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives.
Clare McCarthy from Right To Life UK said:
“Although the passing of this motion by the BMA to remove legal safeguards in the abortion law and to extend abortion provision to Northern Ireland is disappointing, it is essentially a reiteration of votes from previous years.”
“The majority of women in Northern Ireland have made clear that they do not want outside intervention to force abortion on Northern Ireland and expect it to remain a decision for the people their. We hope that the BMA will respect devolution in the future.”