Assembly members voted by 46 to 40 in favor of a motion which read: "That this Assembly welcomes the important intervention of disability campaigner Heidi Crowter and rejects the imposition of abortion legislation that extends to all non-fatal disabilities, including Down's syndrome."
Members rejected an amendment proposed by Sinn Féin, an Irish nationalist party that supported the liberalization of abortion of laws in Northern Ireland. The amendment, which was defeated by 52 votes to 32, was more narrowly drafted, focusing on "the specific legislative provision in the abortion legislation which goes beyond fatal fetal abnormalities to include non-fatal disabilities, including Down Syndrome," but not challenging other aspects of the law.
Arlene Foster, the First Minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, which proposed the successful motion, tweeted June 2: "Our MPs will be raising this result at Westminster. On a devolved issue like this, it should be for the Northern Ireland Assembly to decide."
The British parliament passed the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 in July, with amendments legalizing abortion and same-sex marriage.
The act took effect Oct. 22 because the Northern Ireland Assembly, which had been suspended for the past two years due to a dispute between the two major governing parties, was not able to do business by Oct. 21.
The Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 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 abnormality.