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Pro-lifers slam SDLP on suspensions

By Adrian Rutherford

Pro-life campaigners have accused the SDLP of "a grotesque attack on free speech and unborn babies".

It comes after the party suspended three Belfast councillors for failing to support a motion which alleged women were being harassed outside abortion advice clinics.

The trio was disciplined for refusing to follow the party line and back calls to end anti-abortion campaigners approaching women as they visited the Marie Stopes centre in Belfast.

Those suspended are SDLP group leader Pat Convery, deputy group leader Kate Mullan and South Belfast councillor Declan Boyle.

Liam Gibson from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children accused the party of "a twin-edged assault on fundamental human rights".

"Firstly, it is a grotesque attack on freedom of speech, and the SDLP leadership was foolish not to recognise that," he said.

"However, the suspension of three councillors who could not, in conscience, back a motion which promoted abortion as a form of healthcare and demanded access to abortion facilities is outrageous.

"Abortion is not healthcare and has no medical benefits.

"It is a lethal act of violence directed at unborn babies who are being killed on an industrial scale by clinics such as these all over the world."

The SDLP responded to this story saying: "The motion at Belfast City Council this week was not about abortion. It was about the intimidation and harassment of women seeking to access professional medical advice. When a woman, or anyone else, is intimidated the SDLP will not stand silently by. We have a long and proud history of standing against harassment and intimidation. We will not compromise on that."

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