The Severe Fetal Impairment Bill, which was brough by DUP MLA Paul Givan has passed the second stage by a staggering 48 votes to 12. This means the bill will now go forward for scrutiny at the health committee.  

Gemma Weir, Workers’ Party representative in North Belfast said: “Abortion laws were changed last year following legislation passed at Westminster while Stormont was refusing to sit. The premise of this bill is dishonest, Paul Givan claims this bill is to ensure that people with disabilities are ‘equally valued’ yet he gives no value to the mental or emotional health of pregnant women”.

She continued:“Arlene Fosters interjection that the ‘issue of abortion was entering into the area of eugenics’ is incredibly inflammatory. It is interesting to see how the DUP are perfectly happy to accept a border in the Irish Sea when it suits their narrative and are quite happy for women in Northern Ireland to have less rights than the rest of the UK despite their, at times, zealous commitment to remaining British. This bill is nothing more than a deliberate attempt to restrict the rights of women and their choices in Northern Ireland”.

She concluded: “Sinn Féin showed absolute cowardice by opposing the bill and abstaining when it came down to the vote. Michelle O’Neill was happy to stand on platforms with Mary-Lou after the Repeal of the 8th amendment was won yet today, she completely let women, and in particular vulnerable and working-class women, in the north down. 

“Women in the north have already been failed by the executive and are still waiting for the commissioning of services legislated in 2019. We would call on the health committee to look closely at the realities that face families and examine the way in which the law forces women, faced with a devastating diagnosis, to travel to England in order to access abortion services.”