Tuesday March 31 is the day mandated by Westminster for the implementation of a new abortion framework in Northern Ireland. Our previous law recognised and protected both lives in every pregnancy, meaning that over 100 thousand people, individuals we all know and love are alive today.
This has now been swept away and with the publication last week of the legal framework for abortion services, we can see the scale of the societal change we face.
Many NI politicians who supported a change in the law here, repeatedly said they opposed the introduction of the 1967 Abortion Act and yet we have had that and more imposed on us. There will be unrestricted abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy; abortion on undefined mental health grounds up until the twenty fourth week of pregnancy; abortion for 'serious disability' up to birth and only limited conscientious protections for some healthcare workers.
The government's own consultation document which asked for responses from the public acknowledged that 79 per cent of respondents opposed any change to existing law. Those voices were ignored. Westminster have imposed on us all the worst out-workings of their own fifty years of abortion services which sees 500 abortions every day in England & Wales and over 98 per cent of all abortions are for socio economic reasons.
It is worth noting that the new abortion regime in NI when it comes will have a significant financial cost. In the shadow of a struggling health service and quite literally in the wake of loss of life due to a global pandemic, there is something incredibly distasteful in legislating for the 'right' to end a human life.
Added to this is the tragedy that for the first time ever in NI, preborn babies diagnosed with a "serious disability" will face discrimination with abortion available right up to birth.
The law may have changed but our position hasn't and both lives in pregnancy will always matter. These are bad laws created through a bad process and in time, the Northern Ireland Assembly can and should restore lost protections and introduce new laws and policies fit for the 21st century.
Rather than continue down this path which dehumanises us as women and our preborn children, we must strive to create something truly humane; a new society where every life matters and all life is enabled, and women aren't told they need to choose between their life and wellbeing and their own child.
Both Lives Matter is a pro-life movement seeking to re-frame the abortion debate in Northern Ireland and beyond.