Bill to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities passes committee stage

Pro-lifers with the Both Lives Matter campaign outside Stormont.(Photo: Both Lives Matter)

A Bill to abolish discriminatory abortion rules for disabled babies in Northern Ireland took a step closer to becoming law today.

The Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill passed Committee Stage in the Northern Ireland Assembly after a majority vote 3-2 in favour. 

The Bill wants to make it illegal to abort a baby up to birth for disabilities such as Down's syndrome, club foot or cleft lip.

It passed Committee Stage after hearing evidence from a number of individuals and organisations, including campaigner Heidi Crowter, who has Down's syndrome and has been seeking to change the laws in England.

The Bill now moves to the Consideration Stage.

Welcoming today's vote, CARE NI Policy Officer, Rebecca Stevenson, said the Bill represented "an important first step" in achieving "life-affirming laws that uphold the value of women and babies". 

 "The Bill addresses obvious discrimination and at its heart is a recognition that when it comes to abortion, the current law in Northern Ireland treats you differently if you have a disability than if you don't," she said.

"This is about justice and about sending a message to those in Northern Ireland living with disabilities that their lives are as precious and valuable as those without."

She added, "We will continue to support this Bill and work with MLAs to see it become law."