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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Northern Ireland pro lifers ready to respond to abortion guidelines

8 March 2013

Belfast, 8 March 2013: The pro-life group which twice forced the Northern Ireland Department of Health to withdraw misleading guidelines on the Province’s abortion law has said it will not hesitate to go back to Court if that is the only way it can ensure that unborn children receive the full protection provided under Northern Ireland law.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) was responding to today’s news that Edwin Poots, the health minister, has circulated draft guidelines to the Northern Ireland Executive. They are expected to be published by the end of March. The guidelines will then be the subject of a 16-week public consultation.

Liam Gibson, SPUC's development officer, said: “When abortion advocates first called for guidelines for doctors in 2001, they argued that it was necessary because the law was unclear. After 10 years of litigation over guidelines, no-one can claim that any more. The law is perfectly clear. Abortion is presumptively illegal and remains a criminal offence.

"The Attorney General plainly spelt this out, by explaining that an abortion carried out in Northern Ireland MAY not result in criminal liability if, at a trial, a jury considers that the person who procured it was suitably qualified and had reasonable grounds for believing that the continuation of the pregnancy would have created a risk to the life of the mother. Abortion of children because they are disabled is always unlawful", said Mr Gibson.

"The requirement for doctors to record the reason for authorising an abortion is definitely welcome. The pro-life movement has repeatedly warned that until doctors are made accountable for their decisions there will always be a risk of illegal abortions taking place in secret.

"We will be looking very closely at the draft guidelines and will be encouraging our supporters to take part in the consultation process", concluded Mr Gibson said.

Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer, can be contacted on:

SPUC's communications department can be contacted on:

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