The guidelines were withdrawn last week and the health department announced it would be holding a public consultation.
This is the second time similar guidelines have been issued and then removed. In 2009, a similar set were challenged at the High Court. The judge found the guidelines to be unclear and open to misinterpretation.
Given the ruling, “it was particularly objectionable that the Department of Health chose to issue very similar guidelines in February of this year,” said Bernadette Smyth of the Precious Life organization, which fought the earlier guidelines. She contended that the health department ignores both the majority of voters, legality and sound medicine to “pursue an abortion agenda.”
Abortion in Northern Ireland is only legal in cases where it would preserve the life of the mother.