There seems to be determination on the part of the pro-abortionists to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland and several attempts have been made to do so within the past year. The most recent attempts coincide with the debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill in Britain which has now been postponed until the next parliamentary session. The Daily Telegraph reported last Saturday that the decision to postpone the bill was related to proposed amendment by Emily Thornberry to extend the Act to Northern Ireland but was prevented by Gordon Brown due to the unprecedented level of unity across the North's political divide which believes the question of abortion law should be decided in Stormont and not Westminster. Just prior to the postponement of the bill the Family Planning Association (FPA) began a publicity campaign on the import of RU 486 and called for the liberalisation of the law in Northern Ireland, which was probably intended to coincide with the debate on the extension of the Act since they would have been aware of Emily Thornberry's motion and would not have expected Gordon Brown to postpone the bill.
At the same time Northern Ireland’s Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety launched yet another consultation on proposed guidelines for the termination of pregnancy in the province. The consultation has been launched during the holiday season when the Assembly is in recess and the closing date for submissions is mid-September, giving politicians very little time to respond. As Betty Gibson, SPUC’s chairwoman in Northern Ireland, noted, this is a ploy with which pro-life campaigners are all too familiar. By introducing the consultation at a time when the minimun number of people will be aware of it until it is too late, the hope is that it will slip under the radar unchallenged.
Fortunately, the pro-life movement is a step ahead of the game and may have the chance to act. Betty Gibson warns: "These draft guidelines contain some very serious flaws, not least the failure to acknowledge the suffering frequently experienced by women after abortion. We are determined that the final version of the guidelines should warn of the terrible psychological damage associated with abortion."