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I support extension of Abortion Act to Northern Ireland, says Ruth Patterson

By Suzanne Breen

Published 25/04/2016

Ruth Patterson
Ruth Patterson

Outspoken unionist politician Ruth Patterson has said she would support the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland if it stops women taking abortion pills unsupervised.

Ms Patterson also said that abortion should be available as a choice to women in cases of fatal foetal abnormality or rape.

She spoke emotionally about the trauma of a school-friend who became pregnant after she was sexually abused by her father.

The Belfast councillor, who is contesting South Belfast in next month's Assembly elections, described the prosecution of a 21-year-old woman who bought abortion pills on the internet as "wrong ... it sets a very dangerous precedent".

She added: "I am not coming at this from an ideological viewpoint but as someone who lives in the real world. If women have unprotected sex, they get pregnant and sex education is the key here. Prevention is always much better than cure.

"But, when these things happen, we should respond with compassion and humanity. I am an open and broad-minded person. Raising four children on my own as a single mother has taught me not to be judgmental."

Ms Patterson - a DUP councillor for 14 years until she was expelled after criticising it in a Belfast Telegraph interview last November - said last night that women had abortions for many reasons "but whatever those reasons, it will always be very traumatic and personal".

In the case of fatal foetal abnormality, she said the woman, or couple, involved should be free to make the decision best for them: "Some may decide to abort straight away. Others may choose to carry on with the pregnancy, labour and birth in order to get some comfort and closure to their grieving process."

Ms Patterson added: "When I was head girl at school, a prefect was abused by her father for a long period of time.

"She fell pregnant but, with no-one to turn to, she carried on with the pregnancy. The baby was adopted but, had my friend had access to a circle of support and abortion, she may have gone down that road. We will never know."

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