Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed the publication of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s submission on the Severe Fatal Impairment Bill, which clarifies that the Bill is incompatible with the UK’s international human rights obligations and with Northern Irish law.
The South Belfast MLA said: “The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s submission needs to be read in its entirety, but it is clear that the proposed private member’s bill is incompatible with the UK’s international obligations under the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, and thus incompatible with the law of Northern Ireland which specifically requires those obligations to be implemented under the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc.) Act 2019.
“Indeed, the Commission has gone further and clarified that there may be further breaches of Article 3, Article 8 and Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights, and thus of the Human Rights Act 1998 which forms a fundamental part of Northern Irish law.
“It is clear that to meet our human rights obligations we should not be forcing women to take pregnancies to term against their wishes, but rather providing information and support in form of non-invasive pre-natal testing, specialist referrals and counselling options so they can make the best choice.
“It is clear from the submission that there is work to do to provide a clearer framework for abortion services, clearer clinical definition of severe foetal impairment, and more support for women choosing to take pregnancies to term. However, trying to tamper with the regulations in a way which clearly breaches the UK’s human rights obligations and the law as passed by the UK Parliament, confirmed again only last month, will achieve nothing but further delay to providing the support which is so urgently needed.”