NI: Antrim woman in court action over delayed abortion guidance

NI: Antrim woman in court action over delayed abortion guidance

A woman from Co Antrim is taking Northern Ireland’s Department of Health to court over delays in publishing finalised guidance on abortion.

Solicitor Peter Bowles, representing the woman, said the delay had “far-reaching and very real consequences for those unfortunate enough to have to utilise the health service in such tragic circumstances”.

The claimant in the case is a woman who was forced to travel to an English clinic in order to terminate twins with fatal foetal abnormalities in 2013.

According to papers filed with the court, staff at a Belfast hospital refused to carry out the procedure due to uncertainty around the law.

It is argued that clearer guidance would help health professionals in Northern Ireland make a more informed judgement in these cases.

Mr Bowles told the Belfast Telegraph: “Despite repeated assurances from the department, most recently given to the court in March 2013, a further two-and-a-half years have passed and we are no further on.

“This lacuna has inevitably led to inconsistencies in how individuals, like my client, have been dealt with across the health service in Northern Ireland.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told the newspaper: “Revised guidance has been prepared by the Termination of Pregnancy Working Group. Executive approval is required and the minister hopes this can be achieved shortly.”

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