Northern Ireland

Fatal foetal abnormality: David Ford's abortion bill begins assembly passage

David Ford
Image caption Mr Ford tried to change Northern Ireland's abortion law when he was justice minister

Former justice minister David Ford's abortion bill is to begin its passage through the Northern Ireland Assembly later.

The private bill seeks to legalise abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

If passed, it would enable women in that situation to access a legal termination in Northern Ireland.

It follows a previous attempt by Mr Ford to change the law while justice minister.

The next stage will take place in the new year.

Unlike other parts of the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.

Currently, a termination is only permitted in Northern Ireland if a woman's life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health.

In February, MLAs voted against legalising abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

Politicians have been lobbied to reform the law since 2013, when Northern Ireland woman Sarah Ewart spoke out about having to travel to Great Britain for an abortion after she was told she was carrying a baby that had no chance of survival.

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