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Abortion: Northern Irish prosecutor rules out prosecutions for assisting abortion

The Northern Ireland chief prosecutor has said that those who help women go to the UK or elsewhere for abortions are not breaking the law and would not be prosecuted, reports the BBC.

Northern Ireland has recently drafted new guidelines for its doctors, to help them navigate the law when determining when an abortion is legally permitted and when it should be refused.

However, many feel that the new guidelines have created a culture of fear among medical staff.

Under Northern Ireland's law, it is illegal for a woman to seek an abortion after she discovers that her baby is suffering from a serious foetal abnormality.

In the UK, an abortion under these circumstances, and many others, is permitted.

The result is that many Northern Irish women still consider a trip to the UK as their only option to obtain an abortion in a wide range of circumstances.

There has always been a fear, however, that aiding and abetting a woman to have an abortion abroad was a criminal offence that could land friends and relatives in trouble.

Now the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland, Barra McGrory, has spoken out to confirm that helping someone to travel abroad to have an abortion is not illegal and would not give rise to criminal sanctions.

"There is no criminal offence of aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring someone to have what is a lawful," he told the BBC.

The BBC has recently highlighted the plight of two women from Northern Ireland, who were forced to come to the UK to have abortions after learning that their unborn babies were suffering from severe foetal abnormalities.

In both cases the skulls of the babies were not properly formed, a condition that is totally incompatible with consciousness after birth.

However, in both cases the law in Northern Ireland prohibited them from having an abortion and both had to travel to the UK to receive treatment.