Government ushers in abortion up to point of birth in Northern Ireland – despite overwhelming consultation opposition

At about 4pm today, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) Twitter account announced the details of the new regime governing terminations in the Province, which is due to take effect from March 31.

The NIO said 79% of consultation respondents to the plans had expressed “general opposition to any abortion provision in Northern Ireland beyond that which is currently permitted”.

DUP First Minister Arlene Foster described it as a “very sad day for Northern Ireland”, while Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill “welcomed progress”.

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John Hayes: The plan to impose abortion on demand on Northern Ireland by the end of this month – and why it should be stopped

The restoration of Stormont in January ended three years of division, giving the people of Northern Ireland the ability again to make their voices count through their elected MLAs. All of those involved in the process of restoration deserve thanks for their persistence, dedication and willingness to compromise.

Though it is right to celebrate this restoration, we should remain cautious, for the foundations of the devolution settlement in Northern Ireland remain fragile. As the Province is an essential part of the United Kingdom, the UK Government has an ethical, as well as a constitutional obligation to defend and strengthen these foundations. Turning a blind eye to this duty would be a fundamental mistake.

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Baroness O’Loan: Government should not proceed with abortion legislation at time of national emergency

WE live in unprecedented times.

There is fear of the impact of the coronavirus, Covid-19, uncertainty about what the future holds, some degree of panic and, in some ways, it is hard to know what we can and should do.

The threat to our NHS, which our dedicated nurses described as ‘broken’ recently, is enormous as a consequence of Covid-19.

We know that our health professionals and our emergency services will do all they can, and we must help them as best we can, but the threat to all of us is very real.

In the middle of all this, before March 31, the UK government is required to introduce legislation enabling abortion in limited circumstances in Northern Ireland.

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