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Sinn Féin pressures minister to impose British Govt’s abortion regime on Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Health Minister is under pressure from the political party Sinn Féin to roll out an abortion regime imposed by the British Government across  Northern Ireland.

Since the imposition of abortion onto Northern Ireland by the British Government, abortions up to 24 weeks – and up to birth if the child has a disability – have been made lawful in the region. Individual health trusts in Northern Ireland have set up temporary procedures for abortions to go ahead and, since its introduction in March 2020, there have been almost 1,100 lives lost to abortion.

Health Minister Robin Swann is now under pressure from Sinn Féin to ensure that abortion is made available across the region.

Mr Swann has argued that, as a controversial issue, it is the task of the Executive to agree to set up the services.

Sinn Féin pressure to impose British Govt’s abortion regime 

The Deputy First Minister and Vice President of Sinn Féin, Michelle O’Neill, has accused Mr Swann of “failing” women. On Monday she told Members of the Legislative Assembly:

“Since the framework came into effect there has been a legal responsibility on the health minister to ensure that he provides […] abortion services and that they’re provided via the health trusts here”.

“The minister should end the delay and fulfil his legal responsibilities to make these services available to women. His failure to do so to date is totally unacceptable”.

“I think the framework and the legislation are crystal clear, it is the legal responsibility of the Minister for Health to ensure these services are provided”.

Bill launched to protect disabled babies in the womb

The controversy comes at the same time as DUP MLA Paul Givan has launched a Bill to attempt to provide protections for babies in the womb with disabilities, who currently can be aborted up to term.

The Bill would prevent abortion in cases where a child has a disability such as Down’s syndrome or a cleft lip/palate. The Bill has been produced with the support of the disability campaigning group ‘Don’t Screen Us Out’ as well as the disability campaigner Heidi Crowter, who herself has Down’s syndrome. Crowter said that the law, which allows abortion up to birth for people with her condition, makes her feel like she would be “better off dead”.

Paul Givan said: “The current law tells those with disabilities that they are worth less than other people, their contribution is less valuable, their lives less important, less full”.

“It invites us to view those with disabilities as less deserving of the protection of the law. The idea that Down’s syndrome is some huge problem that should be addressed by abortion is chilling. You don’t have to look far to see the full lives those with disabilities lead – they enrich our communities and families”.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “This dispute illustrates the unwaivering commitment of at least some abortion supporters. It is not enough for abortion supporters that they have achieved legislative victory: anything that is perceived to inhibit abortion access in any way must, in their view, be removed. Even though abortion is now widely available across Northern Ireland, the fact that the procedure is not completely uniform and that some people might have to wait or travel is too much for them to bear”.

“It’s particularly surprising to see that the political party Sinn Féin is leading calls to put pressure on the Minister of Health to impose the British Government’s abortion regime on Northern Ireland.”  

“Pro-lifers should be equally uncompromising when it comes to opposing an ideology that sees the relationship between mother and unborn baby as one of animosity.. The interests of both need not be opposed to one another. As pro-lifers, we believe it is possible to love them both”.

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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