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Pro-life groups hit out at bodies' proposals for no abortion restrictions up to 24 weeks in Northern Ireland

Dawn McAvoy

Pro-life groups have claimed that three professional health bodies that agreed there should be no abortion restrictions up to 24 weeks in Northern Ireland are driven by a pro-abortion agenda.

Dawn McAvoy from Both Lives Matter hit out at the proposals by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare for a regulatory framework for abortion services in Northern Ireland.

The Government must put legislation in place by March 31.

Ms McAvoy said Both Lives Matter acknowledged "the reality of the new legislation", but added that "there is no legal requirement for Northern Ireland to implement an abortion framework which goes far beyond the British model of abortion provision". "Rather than imitate something drawn up in the last century, that is out of step with modern advances in medical science and which is failing women and discarding pre-born children, Northern Ireland can offer better," she said.

Unrestricted terminations would be available here up to 12 or 14 weeks under government proposals. Mental wellbeing grounds may allow an abortion after 14 weeks under official proposals.

But the joint submission by midwives and obstetricians said "there is no clinical basis for introducing a restriction at either 12 or 14 weeks". The colleges added: "The professional groups agree that restricting access to abortion care at arbitrary gestations before 24 weeks will only create barriers for women. This is particularly true for women who are most vulnerable or disadvantaged - such as victims of domestic or sexual abuse, or who are experiencing social or economic deprivation - who, as a result of their circumstances, are more likely to present at later gestations."

Life NI spokeswoman Aisling Dundee said if the proposal is accepted "Northern Ireland would have more liberal abortions laws than most of Europe".

"Not only have the people of Northern Ireland had abortion imposed on them by Westminster but now they face the possibility of the floodgates being opened to the most extreme abortion laws. We implore the government to reject this proposal," she said.

Nola Leach of Christian charity Care said: "The position being taken by these professional health bodies is deeply regrettable. It is striking that GB medical bodies feel the need to interfere, ignoring the views of NI health professionals, many of whom are opposed to the new abortion framework."

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