Last night was almost 10 months after the Minster of Justice announced he would seek to introduce legislation to allow abortions in the case of Fatal Foetal Abnormality. This also came after some 18 months of careful examination of health and justice officials including a public consultation.
However, despite all this oversight an review the DUP proposed that the Health Minister set up another working group to look into this matter. This could take at least six months to report back, enough time for this issue not to be considered before the Assembly elections this May.
This is unacceptable and the 59 votes against making the change now from mainly Unionist* and SLDP* MLAs continue to fail to help the women in our part of the UK. They will for the next sixth months of longer still face the tough decisions about what to do if they are diagnosed with a Fatal Foetal Abnormality.
They will have to decide what they will do in isolation as health care professionals are not allowed to give them any advice. They will have to decide if they go somewhere over the Irish Sea where they possibly know nobody else to access services that are seen a medical procedure across Great Britain, to avoid all the trauma, illness, physical and emotional toil that carrying to term impart.
Our MLAs refused last night to take the tough decisions, so that the tough decisions that some of our women have to take remain tougher than elsewhere. They were not being asked to deny another life from existing, the clue is in the first word of extention that was being asked for.
These abnormalities are not ones that can be carried through into adulthood, or even much of childhood. They either don’t survive outside the womb or for a very short period. A short period during which there may be attachment before that is ripped apart.
The emotional and physical well being of our women was not a consideration of the delay of another 6 months by our elected representatives yesterday. The fact that we are almost 50 years behind the rest of the UK in not allowing our women to abort if there is a FFA means that 6 months is not just six months too much it is the 98th six month that is too much.
* Unionists in favour were Mike Nesbitt, Andy Allen and Michael McGimpsey UUP, Basil McCrea NI21 and John McAllister Ind.
** Claire Hanna of the SDLP Abstained by voting in both lobbies.