Second Stage vote on Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill a welcome development.

A Bill to rule out abortion up to birth in situations where an unborn baby is diagnosed with Down Syndrome or other non-fatal disabilities passed Second Stage in the Northern Ireland Assembly yesterday evening.

The final vote was 48 votes in favour of the Severe Fetal Abortion (Amendment) Bill and 12 votes against.  While Sinn Féin MLAs failed to support the humantarian measure, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster spoke strongly in favour of the Bill and it also received wide cross-party support.

The Private Members’ Bill from Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MLA Paul Givan was formally introduced to the Assembly last month.

Responding to the vote, spokesperson for the Pro Life Campaign, Eilís Mulroy said:

“The Bill voted through Second Stage last night with cross-party support is a very welcome development and is an anti-discrimination measure that will, if passed through all stages of the Assembly, end the singling out of unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities for abortion.

“Though it will not reverse most of the damage caused by the extreme abortion law that Westminster imposed on Northern Ireland in 2019, it will end the obvious discrimination contained in the current law which targets unborn babies with a disability in particular.

“The vote last night sends a strong message that it’s never acceptable to single out an entire category of individuals and seek to justify ending their lives, based solely, for example, on them having a disability.

“We commend the work of disability rights advocates, such as Heidi Crowter, and the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign, who are consistantly highlighting disability discrimination contained within abortion laws and we applaud those MLAs who contributed positively to the debate and voted for this human rights measure”, Ms. Mulroy concluded.