I do appreciate that this is a hugely emotive issue and one which has always been a free vote issue in the House.
I do not believe this is a more liberal regime than that in England and Wales in practice. Although Northern Ireland now has a different starting point to the rest of the UK given abortion has been decriminalised through repeal of sections 58 and 59 Offences Against the Person Act, where appropriate, the Government has mirrored provisions under the Abortion Act 1967, to ensure consistency in provision of services across the UK.
A consultation was held on the proposed framework and on the specific point about severe fetal impairment (SFI) or fatal fetal abnormality (FFA), the consensus among most healthcare bodies, women’s groups and statutory bodies was that access to abortion services should be permitted without time limit in both cases of SFI and FFA, and that decisions to terminate in these circumstances should be made by the pregnant woman or girl.
I believe that this decision complies with the specific duty on the Government to implement the CEDAW recommendation and that the regime under the Abortion Act 1967, which provides a similar ground of access to abortion, is compliant with the international human rights framework.