The region’s Catholic bishops have called the act “an unjust law,” one “which was imposed without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland.”
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“Contrary to the claims of Claire Bailey, the harassment of women and staff outside abortion facilities has been proven to be extraordinarily rare,” said Michael Robinson, executive director of the British pro-life group Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.
For the past few months, Northern Ireland’s Executive Office and the public health authorities had requested churches move their services online.
The statement was signed by Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, Bishop Larry Duffy of Clogher, and Armagh auxiliary Bishop Michael Router.
Lewis seeks to have the British parliament allow him to direct the Northern Ireland health department to commission more widespread abortion provision.
Bishops in Northern Ireland have also strongly backed the proposal.
The House of Commons, the lower house of U.K. Parliament, is expected to vote on the new regulations on Wednesday, June 17.
The Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020, which came into force March 31, allow elective abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy; abortions up to 24 weeks in cases of risk to the mother's physical or mental health; and abortion without time limit in cases of severe fetal impairment or fetal fetal abnormality.
Previously, Northern Ireland’s laws only permitted abortion in cases where a woman’s life is at risk, or where there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.
Northern Ireland's new law allows doctors, registered nurses, and registered midwives to perform abortions.