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Ministers due to get report on fatal foetal abnormalities within days

By David Young, PA

Published 11/10/2016

A Stormont working group examining Northern Ireland's ban on abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities is due to report within days
A Stormont working group examining Northern Ireland's ban on abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities is due to report within days

A Stormont working group examining Northern Ireland's ban on abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities is due to report within days.

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill said she and Justice Minister Claire Sugden would be handed the experts' assessment in the coming days. She said it would be then passed to her Executive colleagues for deliberation.

Abortion is outlawed in Northern Ireland except in cases where the mother's health is at risk.

Last year, a High Court judge in Belfast ruled that the ban on terminations in instances of sexual crime or fatal foetal abnormalities were incompatible with international human rights laws.

Attorney General John Larkin and Stormont's Department of Justice appealed against that ruling. Judges are considering arguments made during the appeal hearing.

The working group on fatal foetal abnormality was set up in the wake of the original High Court ruling.

During Assembly question time, Ms O'Neill said the group had been working since the summer "to consider the care and support provided to women and their families when a fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis has been given".

She added: "That includes consideration of legislative changes. The group has met on several occasions. I expect to receive its report in the coming days, which I, along with the Minister of Justice, will then bring to the Executive."

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