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Will Northern Ireland end discriminatory abortions?

There are two contemporary preoccupations that are effectively at odds in the abortion laws of Britain and Northern Ireland. One principle is that a woman’s right to have an abortion must always be accommodated and celebrated. The other is that the diversity we are also expected to celebrate includes disability.

Unfortunately, the first trumps the second when it comes to the abortion laws of Britain, which were extended to Northern Ireland behind the backs of its elected representatives in 2019, when the Northern Ireland Assembly wasn’t functioning. As a result, in Northern Ireland as in Britain, it is legal to kill a foetus right up to birth if it – or should I say, he or she – is suffering from a physical or mental handicap such as Down’s Syndrome or a disfiguring but remediable condition such as a cleft palate.

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