Northern Ireland news

Leading abortion campaigner calls on people to 'make their voices heard' and demand new regulations around terminations 'are not approved'

Baroness Nuala O'Loan. Picture by Declan Roughan

PRO-LIFE peer Baroness Nuala O'Loan called on people to "make their voices heard" and demand that new regulations around terminations "are not approved" in Northern Ireland.

Writing in today's Irish News, Mrs O'Loan she believed it would be "very wrong" if new laws around abortion are "approved without proper consideration".

Her comments come ahead of Parliament considering whether new abortion regulations should become law in the north.

The regulation, which came into force March 31, allow elective abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, a termination up to 24 weeks in cases of risk to the mother's physical or mental health and abortion without time limit in cases of severe foetal impairment or fatal foetal abnormality.

But Mrs O'Loan said she believed the new law had "obvious excess of power, uncertainties, lack of detail and dangers".

"Parliament cannot sit properly because of the coronavirus: only a limited number are permitted to attend," she said.

"It would be very wrong if this new law, containing so much that appears to be beyond the powers of the secretary of state, were to be approved without proper consideration and without taking into account the views of the people of Northern Ireland.

"It is time for the people of Northern Ireland to make their voices heard again, by writing to MPs, MLAs, the NIO and others demanding that these regulations are not approved."

But Grainne Teggart, Northern Ireland campaigns manager for Amnesty UK, said Northern Ireland is a "pro-choice society and we finally have laws that reflect this".

"We are in a new era; abortion is now legal and the new abortion regulations which took effect on 31st March are clear about when and where abortions can be carried out," she said.

"Any attempts to rollback our rights will not succeed."

Green Party leader Clare Bailey also said: "After decades of discrimination, women are offered limited abortion services which recognise their autonomy and treats them with compassion and dignity.

"It is no surprise that some anti-choice campaigners are unhappy with the law change and will struggle with this human rights compliant legislation.

"The onset of Covid-19 and lockdown travel restrictions means that abortion law reform couldn’t have come any sooner."

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