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Poll: Do you want abortion law changed in Northern Ireland?

By Claire Cromie

Published 09/02/2016

The Northern Ireland Assembly is set to debate and vote on changes to abortion law on Wednesday.

Amnesty International claims 7 in 10 Northern Ireland people back reforms.

But what do you think?

The proposed amendments to the Justice Bill would allow for abortion in cases of fatal foetal diagnosis and where the pregnancy was as a result of rape or incest.

In December last year, Belfast’s High Court ruled that Northern Ireland’s abortion law is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights by not allowing for terminations in such exceptional circumstances.

Amnesty has written to all Assembly members calling for Northern Ireland law to be brought into line with international human rights standards, including full decriminalisation of voluntary abortion, and access to safe and legal abortions, at a minimum, on grounds of severe or fatal foetal abnormality, or in circumstances where pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

The human rights organisation says support is growing for change. A survey for Amnesty by polling company Millward Brown Ulster said:

  • 69% of people think the law in Northern Ireland should make access to abortion available where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest;
  • 60% of people think the law in Northern Ireland should make access to abortion available where the foetus has a fatal abnormality.

Programme Director Patrick Corrigan said: “We welcome moves to amend Northern Ireland’s abortion law is in desperate and urgent need of reform.

“These are important first steps to bringing Northern Ireland’s law into line with international human rights standards and we urge members of the Assembly to change the law, as called for in December’s High Court decision.

“With regard to sexual crime, Amnesty recommends that the law be changed to make abortion available to women based on their complaint of the rape, and that they should not be compelled to undergo unnecessary procedures, such as pressing charges against the perpetrator, identifying the rapist or providing forensic evidence. The World Health Organisation has noted that such requirements can delay access to abortion services, or may prevent access to services altogether.

“In line with international standards, Amnesty recommends that the term ‘severe and fatal’ foetal abnormality is used in revised legislation and that medical practitioners are allowed to decide whether a condition meets the necessary standard.

“We urge all members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to support changes to the law to ensure women’s and girls’ right to healthcare.”

The amendments have been brought to the Assembly by Alliance MLAs Trevor Lunn and Stewart Dickson, as well as another proposal by the Green Party's Steven Agnew.

Please ring your MLAs today and tell them you don't want abortion.Babies like Poppy Grace in the picture could be...

Posted by Precious Life on Monday, 8 February 2016

However anti-abortion group Precious Life is urging MLAs to vote against the changes.

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