Ford submits private member’s bill on fatal foetal abnormality

South Antrim MLA David Ford has submitted a private member’s bill seeking to reform the law around the termination of pregnancy in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities (FFA).

Mr Ford tabled his Bill with the Assembly Speaker’s Office today. If passed, it would enable women carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality to access a termination legally in Northern Ireland. It follows a previous attempt by Mr Ford to change the law while Justice Minister.

“Three years ago, I made a promise to Sarah Ewart that I would try to change the law to allow women such as her who wished to have a termination in cases of FFA to do so in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“In my previous role as Justice Minister, I attempted to bring legislation to the Executive to allow just that. However, other parties blocked that move and failed to accept my recommendations, which left women in those circumstances with no option but to continue the pregnancy or make the traumatic journey across the Irish Sea to seek a termination.

“The working group on abortion which was established before May’s election has sent its report to the Health and Justice Ministers. While that is welcome, any guidelines coming from it will not change the law to achieve the reform needed to help women who are given the dreadful diagnosis that a longed-for child has no prospect of life. This is not about disability, it is solely concerned with situations where a foetus cannot survive.

“A wide-ranging consultation has already been carried out on this issue by the Department of Justice. We know the desire is there in Northern Ireland for change to the law. We need to help the women who wish to seek a termination in these circumstances and we need to help them now.”

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