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Northern Ireland abortion law protects women and children

10 September 2008

Northern Ireland abortion law protects women and children Belfast, 10 September 2008 - Calls by the pro-abortion lobby to extend the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland have been rejected by pro-life advocates in the Province.

Speaking about the latest attempt to impose the Act on Northern Ireland, Betty Gibson, chairwoman of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in the Province pointed to a lack of support for any change in Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

"Opposition to the extension of the Abortion Act unites the people, politicians and Churches across Northern Ireland like no other issue. Although only two out of the 108 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly support the extension of the Act, a group of extreme pro-abortion MPs, who represent no one in Northern Ireland, want to force the people of the Province to accept the legalisation of abortion virtually on demand," said Mrs Gibson.

"Abortion kills babies but it also hurts women. There is no proven medical benefit to abortion but more than 1200 studies document the ways in which abortion damages women's health. Most of these effects were unknown in 1967 when the Abortion Act became law. For example, at least 16 studies show that abortion heightens the risk of premature birth in later pregnancies. Premature birth is associated with neonatal death, cerebral palsy and other developmental problems." She also highlighted research indicating that at least one in ten women are likely to suffer psychologically because of her abortion, sometimes many years after the event. Known as post-abortion trauma this is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder associated with the loss of a child through the mother's decision to have an abortion. Mrs Gibson said: "Despite the claims of British abortion providers, there is no evidence of a so-called backstreet abortion problem in Northern Ireland. Nor has the Abortion Act succeeded in ending backstreet abortions in Britain. A study of maternal deaths in the 1979-1981 Report of Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths, England and Wales, showed that there were 50 maternal deaths following legal abortions between 1970 and 1981, and 52 maternal deaths following illegal abortions during the same period. According to government figures* between 1968 and 1988 the police in Britain recorded 986 offences of procuring illegal abortions and brought 293 prosecutions. All the Abortion Act achieved is an abortion mentality, with ever-increasing numbers of legal abortions running alongside a persistent level of 'unspecified' and clearly criminal abortions." Pro-life advocates argue that the law in Northern Ireland on the other hand, protects both women and children. This, they say, is born out by the Province's statistics on maternal mortality which are the best in the UK. A report by the Irish Central Statistics Office comparing maternal death rates between Britain and Ireland shows that in 2005 the rate in Northern Ireland was five deaths per 100,000 compared with seven per 100,000 in England and Wales, and seven per 100,000 in Scotland. World Health Organisation statistics show the maternal death rate in the Republic of Ireland, where abortion is only permitted to save the life of the mother, to be the best in the world with only two maternal deaths per 100,000 births, less than a third of the death rate in England and Wales. "That," said Mrs Gibson "is why everyone must take a stand against abortion." * Commons Written Answer, Hansard 17 January 1990.


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