Pressure grows on Edwin Poots for swift review of abortion law in Northern Ireland
Momentum is building for a swift review of abortion law in Northern Ireland to allow for terminations of babies with severe abnormalities.
The Health Minister Edwin Poots is facing increased pressure from inside and outside the Assembly to consider such cases as part of his department's new draft guidelines for healthcare professionals.
The abortion debate erupted again following the plight of Sarah Ewart who had to go to London to have her pregnancy terminated after being told her baby had the lethal abnormality of anencephaly.
A second couple, who are facing the prospect of going to London to have twin daughters with the same condition terminated in the next week, have asked Mr Poots to intervene and help them receive the termination at home. Last night, Mr Poots said he would meet with the Public Prosecution Service to discuss the issue of potential prosecutions for health care staff.
He said the couple have his "deepest sympathy".
"I am willing to meet with this couple if they so wish and have asked my officials to contact them to offer a meeting," Mr Poots said.
Yesterday, Alliance MLA Anna Lo called on all women who have gone to England for terminations in similar circumstances to write to Mr Poots so that their voices can be heard.
Her words were echoed by NI21 party leader, Basil McCrea MLA, who said that the Northern Ireland Executive and politicians here could not ignore the stories of personal suffering and anguish of women with "nonviable pregnancies".
However, Bernie Smyth of pro-life group Precious Life, believes that the stories of both women have been "manipulated" by pro-choice advocates and was concerned changes to abortion law here could open "the floodgates for all deformities in babies".