There has never been a time when we needed each other more. I wash my hands, not simply for my own benefit, but for everyone else. I am staying at home, not out of choice, but to protect others. We understand that we have to limit our own freedom for the sake of others.

That makes the recent abortion regulations in Northern Ireland all the more ironic and, frankly, jarring. The campaign that led to these changes was premised on a simple slogan: my body, my choice. This is the ultimate rallying cry of an individualist culture. It is, however, completely at odds with this cultural moment. 

We are all being urged to do what we can to save the lives of others – particularly the most marginalised and vulnerable. Our healthcare professionals are giving all that they can, risking their lives to protect others. And yet, in the midst of this crisis the Government has pushed out regulations allowing abortion for any reason in the first 12 weeks. They permit abortion up to 24 weeks for unspecified physical or mental health reasons. 


Perhaps most worryingly, abortion will be available for disability up to birth. Gone are some the safeguards that apply in England and Wales; in Northern Ireland, only one medical professional including a midwife or nurse can perform an abortion. Abortions can be performed in hospitals, at clinics or in homes, and there are only limited conscience protections for medical staff similar to those in England.

Encouragingly, we now know that 79 per cent of people who responded to the consultation opposed these changes. But that was not enough. Abortion is devolved matter. It is now for local MLAs to enact the will of the people. 

The current coronavirus crisis is a tragedy. It reminds us that what we do with our bodies has a significant impact on others, particularly those closest to us. It reminds us that we all have to sacrifice some of our freedoms for the common good. It reminds us that we do have a choice of what we do with our bodies, and we should use them to help others, not harm them.

Abortion is a tragedy, one forced upon Northern Ireland by politicians at Westminster. We as the Evangelical Alliance will continue to work with others to undo these awful consequences.