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SF moves to limit abortion for non-fatal abnormalities in the North

 

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Stormont buildings, the site of the Northern Ireland government

Stormont buildings, the site of the Northern Ireland government

Stormont buildings, the site of the Northern Ireland government

Sinn Féin has come out against legalising abortion in cases of non-fatal foetal abnormalities in Northern Ireland.

The party was criticised by pro-choice campaigners over the weekend after it emerged it was tabling an amendment to a DUP motion to restrict new abortion regulations.

The Westminster government last year passed a law to lift the North's near ban on abortion.

Regulations to legalise access to abortion for the first time came into effect from March, but no services have yet been commissioned by the Northern Ireland Department of Health.

Under the regulations, abortion is available with no restriction on reason up to 12 weeks' gestation.

Terminations when there is a risk of the woman's physical or mental health being injured are available up to 24 weeks.

An abortion would also be available in cases of foetal abnormalities, with no gestational limit. The regulations were based on recommendations to reform Northern Ireland's abortion law from the UN committee on the elimination of discrimination against women (CEDAW).

The DUP will table a motion in Stormont today which "rejects the imposition of abortion legislation which extends to all non-fatal disabilities, including Down syndrome".

A Sinn Féin amendment would limit the motion to rejecting just the abortion regulations which would legalise terminations in cases of non-fatal foetal abnormalities.

In Ireland, abortion is legal in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities but not in cases where the foetus is likely to survive.

There have been concerns legalising abortion in cases of non-fatal foetal abnormalities would lead to terminations on the grounds of disability.

In a statement, Sinn Féin said it was in favour of legalising access to abortion in Northern Ireland, including free access up to 12 weeks

"However, Sinn Féin does not support CEDAW's recommendation to provide abortion in the case of severe foetal impairment," a spokesman said.

Irish Independent