The Evangelical Alliance says proposals to change the abortion laws in Northern Ireland “exceed our worst fears”.
On Tuesday, the Government announced a consultation on plans with those in Northern Ireland with a particular interest in the area invited to submit thoughts before 16th December.
It comes after a final attempt by Northern Ireland politicians failed to block the changes which have been imposed by Westminster while the Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended over a power sharing dispute.
Announcing the consultation, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Julian Smith said: “In considering these proposals, I remain acutely aware that the provision of abortion services are devolved to Northern Ireland, including health and social services. I am also deeply sympathetic to the fact that this is a highly sensitive and complex matter, with differing and strongly held views across society.
“I have made the case to party leaders in Northern Ireland that the best way of dealing with this issue would be to form an Executive that could take forward these commitments in the best interests in Northern Ireland – unfortunately, this has not been possible to achieve.
“With a legal duty now placed on the Government to change the abortion law in Northern Ireland, this consultation focuses on what new regulatory framework must be put in place for lawful access to abortion services in Northern Ireland. In doing so, the health and safety of women and girls, and clarity and certainty for the medical profession, are at the forefront of the Government’s consideration.”
Reacting to the announcement, Peter Lynas, NI director of Evangelical Alliance said: “This is the worst of all worlds and goes far beyond what Westminster legislated for. The framing of the consultation is deeply concerning. The proposals suggest the British requirement that two doctors sign off on an abortion should not be adopted and instead look to open up provision to any healthcare professional, operating in almost any location.”
“Lots of people don’t realise that GB has one of the most liberal abortion regimes in Europe. The NIO proposals read like a pro-abortion charter attempting to make Northern Ireland the abortion capital of Europe. The NIO have put out a 6 week consultation, the shortest they could, launched the day before purdah, meaning the consultation will run while everyone is distracted by the election. The process and timing is incredibly concerning.”