Abortion agenda continues in Northern Ireland

25 March 2022

This week has seen several pro-abortion moves made to further the abortion industry’s agenda in Northern Ireland.

Introduction of ‘buffer zones’

A bill to exclude pro-life prayers and protesters outside abortion clinics was this week approved in the Northern Irish Assembly by 55 votes to 29.

The bill had initially failed to secure cross-party support, and pro-life campaigners had also campaigned hard to block the bill with a petition of concern, which requires 30 signatures. However, despite 29 MLAs voting against the bill at every stage of its progress through the Assembly, the petition of concern failed to get a 30th MLA to sign.

The Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill allows the introduction of censorship ‘buffer zones’ outside abortion clinics and hospitals offering abortions across Northern Ireland. This now means that it is a criminal offence to “influenc[e] … a … person [seeking an abortion], whether directly or indirectly” within these zones.

UK government to implement extreme abortion in Northern Ireland

Meanwhile, MLAs in Northern Ireland are currently set to miss a deadline imposed by the Westminster government to start implementing extreme abortion laws.

Back in July 2021, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland set a deadline for the Northern Irish Assembly to “ensure relevant healthcare services are available by the 31 March 2022.”

The law on abortion in Northern Ireland changed in 2020 following intervention by the UK government to try to restore devolution.

What followed were the most extreme abortion laws in Europe, where abortion is now legal in all circumstances for the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. If the pregnancy poses a risk to the woman’s mental or physical health, abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks.

Yet in June 2019, the Northern Irish Assembly had passed a motion rejecting the changes to the law. Across the two votes held, 75 of the 90 MLAs voted against the provisions in the regulations allowing abortion for non-fatal disabilities.

Now, however, the Westminster government has announced that it is preparing regulations itself for the devolved nation.

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