David Ford hopes bill to reform Northern Ireland abortion law is passed
A private member's bill on abortion reform will officially reach the floor of the Northern Ireland Assembly today.
Former Alliance leader David Ford's bill aims to allow women to legally have a termination in Northern Ireland in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities (FFA).
Currently, the strict laws here only allow for abortions in Northern Ireland when the mother's life is in danger, or there is a serious risk to her mental or physical health.
The South Antrim MLA said he hoped his bill - which deals solely with FFA cases - "leads to the reform desperately needed for women in Northern Ireland who wish to access terminations".
"As Justice Minister, I attempted to bring legislation to the Executive to allow that but other parties blocked it and failed to accept my recommendations," he said.
"That left women in those circumstances with no option but to continue the pregnancy or make the journey to England to seek a termination."
Meanwhile, the Ulster Unionists have criticised the Justice Minister after she suggested that a much-anticipated report examining the ban on abortion in cases of FFA may not be made public. Minister Claire Sugden appeared to cast doubt over the move when she said the decision would require full Executive approval.
Yesterday UUP justice spokesman Doug Beattie called on Ms Sugden to state clearly whether or not she believes the report should be released to the wider public. He said her equivocation had created confusion.
"The bottom line is that she is the Justice Minister and must surely have an opinion of her own as to whether or not this report should be published," he said.