Mrs. Johanna Higgins LLB launched a report on the current state of pro-life legislation in Northern Ireland, at a meeting of the Northern Ireland Assembly all party pro-life committe on Monday February 6th in Stormont. The launching of the report titled, “Statement of Law against Abortion and Child destruction in Northern Ireland" was well attended by Assembly Members together with medical, legal experts and pro-life NGO’s.
The report, by Mrs Higgins, who is a barrister of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland, Kings Inns Dublin, and the Inner Temple London, has been endorsed by Professor John Keown who is a Barrister and former Senior Lecturer in law at Cambridge and Senior Research Fellow at Churchill College. Keown is now a Professor in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University, Washington.
Mrs Higgins in her report considered the implications of the relevant legislation, sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, in the context of the crime of procuring miscarriage/abortion and sections 25(1) and 25(2) of the 1945 Northern Ireland Criminal Justice act under the heading of the Crime of Child destruction
The report is the first legal analysis that clearly shows that the core purpose of the laws against abortion and child destruction in Northern Ireland and it gives health and legal professionals, and public representatives, a better understanding and clarification of the laws that govern abortion in Northern Ireland.
The protection of unborn life however is not a threat to the life of a mother in Northern Ireland. Despite the fact that abortion is illegal and unborn children are protected by law, no woman has, or ever will be, denied life saving treatment even in rare cases where such treatment causes the unintentional death of an unborn child.
Mrs. Higgins told the meeting that it was important to look at both the issue of protection of unborn life and the preservation of the life of a mother as two separate but vitally important issues. The pro-abortion movement mangle up the issues in an emotive way highlighting only the life of the mother. Senior doctors have agreed (and this is recorded in Hansard) that while protecting unborn life there are no circumstances where a mother’s life need be endangered
Pat Ramsey MLA told the meeting that Johanna Higgins was a long-standing advisor to the all-party pro-life group and that her report would serve as a template for the medical and legal professions. There are now he said three pieces of hard data that can be used to protect unborn life, Johanna’s report, an action report and the hardcore statistics set out in Patrick Carroll’s recent report Ireland’s Gain.
In response to a question from Liam Gibson of SPUC Pat Ramsey confirmed that the report would be sent to both the Attorney General and the Health Minister.
Jim Wells MLA told the meeting that he applauds Johanna for setting out the law so clearly and in a reference to Patrick Carroll’s report said that had abortion been legalized in Northern Ireland the statistics show that 80,000 northern Ireland citizens would not be alive today. This is equivalent to a small town
The report is very timely, as the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) will soon issue revised guidelines on abortion in Northern Ireland. Their Guidance on the Termination of Pregnancy: The Law and Clinical Practice in Northern Ireland, was first issued in March 2009. The Guidance was the subject of a Judicial Review sought by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) in November 2009 resulting in its withdrawal when the High Court ruled that parts of it were misleading. The subsequently reissued guidance was also challenged by SPUC and found to be in breach of the High Court decision.
This new document will help to confront the pro-abortion lies constantly reported as truth by the media when they claim that abortion is legal in Northern Ireland in 'certain circumstances'. The killing of an unborn baby in the womb has never been legal under Northern Ireland and the Higgins report is an important step in ensuring that this remains the case.