Two amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill seeking the introduction of abortion now look unlikely to pass as the DUP say they will vote against it.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has however asked the Northern Ireland Health Minister to set up a working group to look at how the issue of so called ‘fatal foetal abnormality’ can be addressed.
Two separate amendments to the Northern Ireland Criminal Justice Bill, tabled by the Alliance and the Green Parties, aimed at changing the law on abortion will come to a vote today Wednesday February 10th, The amendments if approved would allow abortion of babies with life-limiting disabilities and babies conceived by criminal acts (rape or incest).
Both the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and Precious Life appealed to MLA’s to reject the proposals. These are the most vulnerable of unborn children and if their legal protection is denied, the legal protection of all unborn children is brought into question.
Northern Ireland’s Catholic Bishops have also urged Assembly members to reject the proposed amendments. The Bishops in their statement rephrased the issue to refer to unborn children with life-limiting conditions, rather than the pro-abortion definition of ‘fatal foetal abnormality’.
The DUP has asked the Northern Ireland health minister to set up a working group to look at how the issue of fatal foetal abnormality can be addressed.
The move comes as MLAs prepare for an assembly debate on whether to make abortions legal in such cases. The DUP said the issue required proper consideration by the assembly and executive, and that the Bill was not intended for this purpose. They have asked Health Minister Simon Hamilton to set up a working group, including clinicians and people with a legal background, to make recommendations as to how the issue can be addressed, including, if necessary, draft legislation. It is to report within six months.
The proposed amendment looks unlikely to pass now that the DUP has said it will be voting against it.