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Abortion is not a compassionate response to fatal disability says SPUC Northern Ireland

9 October 2013

Belfast, 9 October 2013: Abortion is not a compassionate response to cases of fatal disability in unborn children, says the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) in Northern Ireland.

SPUC Northern Ireland was responding to the case of 'Sarah', a woman who contacted the BBC to say that the law on abortion in Northern Ireland had forced her to travel to England to abort a child diagnosed with anencephaly.

Liam Gibson, SPUC Northern Ireland's development officer, commented: "Abortion is not a compassionate response to the diagnosis of fatal disability. Babies with fatal disabilities are no less human than other children and share the same right to life as all other human beings. The law in Northern Ireland respects that right, while the British Abortion Act has led to the situation where it is lawful to kill a disabled child up to birth."

Mr Gibson continued: "Some people may believe that an abortion in case of fatal disability helps women carrying such babies but in fact this is not true. The evidence demonstrates that women who abort their babies for such reasons experience serious psychological suffering. One study in the Netherlands found that, four months after their abortions, 46 per cent of women showed pathological levels of post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The tragic nature of this case highlights the desperate need for perinatal hospice care in Northern Ireland. Women with access to perinatal hospice care have a much better prospect of coming to terms with their grief. A perinatal hospice gives parents of babies with a fatal diagnosis the chance to be parents. To hold their child, care for them and share whatever time they have no matter how short. Those experiences help parents cope with their grief in a way that is simply impossible with abortion", said Mr Gibson.

"Last year MLAs were given the opportunity to hear about the benefits of perinatal hospice care from Dr Bryon Calhoun, a world class expert in this field. It is time that the health department looked at ways to provide greater support and care for women and their unborn babies in these difficult and tragic circumstances", concluded Mr Gibson.

Cliona Johnson, an Irish woman, has recounted movingly her experience of choosing to give birth to an ancephalic child in this YouTube video.

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

SPUC's communications department can be contacted on:

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