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Abortion: Hundreds of healthcare workers oppose new law

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Abortion: Hundreds of healthcare workers oppose new law

In a letter written to the NI secretary, hundreds of health professionals have opposed the liberalization of NI’s abortion laws.

The doctors, nurses and midwives say their consciences will not allow them to stay silent on the issue.

They wanted to be reassured as “conscientious objectors” that they will not have to perform or assist abortions.

Unless the Northern Ireland assembly starts by 21 October, restrictions on abortion in NI will be drastically reduced.

In England, Wales and Scotland, laws that gave abortion the status of a crime were changed by the 1967 Abortion Act, which allowed an abortion to be legally carried out up to a 24-week limit.

It was also made legal beyond that in cases where the mother’s health is threatened, or if there is a substantial risk the baby will have serious disabilities.

But these changes did not apply to Northern Ireland, which had its own parliament. In Northern Ireland abortion remains illegal unless a woman’s life is at risk, or there is a serious risk to her mental or physical health.

In July MPs passed the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act, which contained a provision placing a duty on the government to regulate to provide for access to abortion in Northern Ireland.

It comes into effect if the Stormont executive is not restored by 21 October, with regulations required to be in place by the end of March 2020.

Those who signed the letter said that they were concerned for pregnant mothers and their unborn children and, as Christians, it was their firmly held belief that abortion was the “unjust and violent taking of human life”.

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