By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

BELFAST, November 11, 2009 ( – Both the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) in Northern Ireland and the Belfast-based Precious Life have called for police investigation following the release of official figures which revealed that 92 abortions were carried out in Northern Ireland during 2008.

Currently, Northern Ireland allows abortion legally only in cases where it is clear that a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, but the pro-life groups indicate that no medical reasons for the abortions are included in the records, leaving the possibility that the abortions were illegal.

“Any medical intervention which would risk a child's life is only lawful if the doctor considers it necessary to save the mother's life. It is not lawful for a doctor to intend the child's death,” said Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland.

“There is evidence, however,” Gibson continued, “that abortions have been performed simply because the child may have been disabled. Abortions for disability are a form of fatal discrimination and are unlawful in Northern Ireland. It is very worrying, therefore, that the health minister claims he doesn't know the reasons for which abortions are carried out in Northern Ireland.”

Precious Life is calling for the circumstances behind the abortions in Northern Ireland hospitals to be opened to public scrutiny. They also said that the doctors who performed the abortions must be challenged about the legality of their actions and also called for police investigations into any believed to have been carried out illegally.

Director of Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth, said, “These figures raise all sorts of questions. In Northern Ireland, abortion still comes under the criminal law. It is a very serious offence to take the life of an unborn child. The only defense is when the death of the child occurs as an unintentional result of providing life saving treatment to the mother. We want to know why each and every one of these abortions were carried out.”

“We also want to know what happened to the bodies of the babies and whether birth certificates or death certificates were issued. If any of the abortions were illegal, the medical staff involved must be questioned by police and charged,” Smyth said in a press release.

A further problem in the official abortion figures that concerns the pro-life groups is a discrepancy between the latest figures and the figures Health Minister Michael McGimpsey released in December 2008.

The latest official figures were released in response to an assembly question by SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey who asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many terminations of pregnancies have been carried out in the last five years. A similar question was asked in December 2008 by DUP MLA Simon Hamilton.

“In a written answer last December, Mr McGimpsey said that in Northern Ireland there were 59 abortions carried out in 2004, 82 in 2005, 69 in 2006, and 99 in 2007* (*the 2007 figure was provisional and subject to change). But now, only eleven months later he says there were 67 abortions carried out in 2004, 64 in 2005, 80 in 2006, and 79 in 2007,” Bernadette Smyth said.

“At best, this smacks of sheer incompetence. At worst, it smacks of a cover-up. Has the Department something to hide? Are they covering up illegal abortions? If his Department cannot explain the discrepancies in the figures, then Mr McGimpsey should resign,” Smyth concluded.

See related LSN coverage:

UK Abortion Guidelines for Northern Ireland Ignore Province's Pro-Life Laws 

 Northern Ireland Guidelines Will Establish Abortion on Demand by “Bureaucratic Stealth”

Pro-Life Ireland Unites Against Threat of Abortion from London, UN and EU 

After Successfully Avoiding Abortion, Northern Ireland Launches “40 Days for Life”