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Bill against abortions in cases of non-fatal disabilities passes second stage

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A Bill aimed at outlawing abortions being carried out in cases of non-fatal disabilities has passed its second stage in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill was passed by 48 votes to 12, with 27 MLAs abstaining.

Earlier Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill indicated her party would abstain.

She said the focus should be on commissioning the services which should already be in place.

The Bill has been referred to the Health Committee for scrutiny.

It comes after Westminster passed legislation liberalising the region’s abortion laws while the Stormont Assembly was collapsed.

The debate on Monday, which lasted into the evening, saw some sharp exchanges on an issue which divides the parties.

DUP leader Arlene Foster claimed that aborting babies with Down’s syndrome was “entering the realm of eugenics”.

Coronavirus – Tue Mar 2, 2021 / PA Wire

Eugenics was championed by the Nazis and involves breeding people with desirable hereditary traits.

Mrs Foster’s unionist party is opposed to terminations and has proposed a new law to prevent them being carried out in cases of non-fatal disabilities.

Ms O’Neill said the DUP was attempting to roll back legislation liberalising the country’s abortion laws.

We are entering into the realm of eugenics, and you can deny that all you like but we are on a very slippery slope

Mrs Foster told the Stormont Assembly: “No one’s life is less valuable and this standard should apply to lives inside and outside the womb.

“We are entering into the realm of eugenics, and you can deny that all you like but we are on a very slippery slope.

“Everyone should be very careful about that, because it is Down’s syndrome and non-fatal disability today – what is it in 10 years’ time that we are deciding is appropriate for abortion?”

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