Northern Ireland’s New Health Minister Opposes Abortion For Raped Women

Northern Ireland still views abortion as a criminal offence in most cases


by Stevie Martin |
Published on

Northern Ireland's new health minister, Jim Wells, believes women who have fallen pregnant due to being raped shouldn't be allowed to have an abortion. His reason? The figure for pregnancies from rape are quite low.

The Abortion Act, allowing women to choose whether or not they should terminate a pregnancy, doesn't extend to Norther Ireland; it's still seen as a criminal offence except in certain circumstances. Such as, if a pregnancy will severely threaten a woman's health.

'[Pregnancy from rape] is a tragic and difficult situation but should the ultimate victim of that terrible act – which is the unborn child – should he or she also be punished for what has happened by having their life terminated? No.' he said in a radio interview in 2012. 'In Northern Ireland there are hundreds of married couples who would love to adopt children, a child, a baby, and who could give support in that situation. A termination of a pregnancy should not be the first option in that situation. The other option is that you kill the child who’s a totally innocent victim in this terrible set of circumstances.'

He went on to explain how the circumstances are 'extremely rare' in Northern Ireland, and that he was concerned those who are lobbying on this issue are using it to some extent because they want abortion on demand for everyone, regardless of the circumstances.'.

READ MORE:Thousands Protest In Dublin Against Anti Abortion Laws After Horrific Case Of Raped Woman

There's also a fear, he said, that if legislation was changed, the country could find themselves in a similar situation to England, where the 'abortion-on-demand' culture has led to seven million terminated pregnancies.

In terms of the low figures of those who fall pregnant after being raped, pro-choice lobbyists have pointed out that, because of the stricter abortion laws in Northern Ireland, women are forced into other areas of the UK to have such pregnancies terminated – hence the low numbers on record. Of course, this isn't likely to be reported, and so the stats aren't necessarily accurate.

The future isn't necessarily anti-choice, though. David Ford, Northern Ireland's justice minister, is about to prepare a discussion paper on whether the law on abortion should be liberalised in the region. Which way this discussion will go remains to be seen.

In brighter news, Spain has just rejected what would have been the EU's strictest anti-abortion laws, so it's not all doom and gloom out there.

Follow Stevie on Twitter @5tevieM

You might also be interested in...

This Girl Is Getting Major Hate For Crowdfunding Her Abortion

Why Is It Still Unacceptable To Have More Than One Abortion?

A Young Woman In Ireland Was Refused An Abortion And Forced To Give Birth By C-Section At 25 Weeks

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us