Women in Ireland, Northern Ireland Advocating for Abortion Access in Cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormality

Conscience, Spring 2014 | Go to article overview

Women in Ireland, Northern Ireland Advocating for Abortion Access in Cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormality


A WOMAN KNOWN AS SARAH spoke on BBC radio in October about a fetus with a fatal defect she was being "forced to carry" because the law in Northern Ireland prohibits her from having an abortion, BBC Radio Northern Ireland reported. After meeting with her and other women who were carrying fetuses with fatal abnormalities, Minister for Health Edwin Poots announced later that month that revised abortion guidelines were being prepared. Currently, Northern Ireland only allows abortion to preserve a woman's life or her physical or mental health.

In Ireland, shortly before the July passage of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, which allowed abortion in cases of a threat to a woman's life, Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter called for a referendum to broaden the law. He told the Irish Times, "I believe it is a great cruelty that our law creates a barrier to a woman in circumstances where she has a fatal fetal abnormality being able to have a pregnancy terminated ... knowing it has no real prospect of survival following birth. …

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Women in Ireland, Northern Ireland Advocating for Abortion Access in Cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormality
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