Belfast Telegraph

Unborn children are members of our human family and have a right to life

By Carla Lockhart

Life matters, and 100,000 lives matter a lot. From the beginning of my political career as a councillor in Lurgan, I have always sought to protect the vulnerable in our society.

It is my belief, one shared by many in our society, that each and every human life is valuable from beginning to end.

Law and policy in every area, whether it be policing, culture or healthcare, should always seek to affirm and uphold the value and worth of all of us.

As a matter of biological fact, your story and my story started at the point of conception.

We might have been long hoped for or an unexpected surprise - that doesn't matter. We may have been smaller than a full stop on this page, but from tiny beginnings we grow and develop.

Unborn children are members of our human family. They have a right to life.

The law should protect the most vulnerable in our society and uphold the value and worth of the unborn. This is not at odds with valuing the life of the mother - we can and must support both.

Mothers need effective and helpful support throughout pregnancy. As a political representative, I will always seek to support legislation which affirms the value and worth of both mothers and unborn children.

It is for this reason that I have given my support to the Both Lives Matter campaign since its inception. This campaign has sought to chart a new path in championing the value and worth of both mothers and unborn children.

I was pleased to endorse the first report of the Both Lives Matter campaign in which they make the case, using a robust statistical methodology, that around 100,000 individuals are alive today who would not be if Northern Ireland had adopted the 1967 Abortion Act in place in England, Scotland and Wales.

Both Lives Matter put up billboards around Northern Ireland highlighting this figure.

Sadly, rather than celebrate the 100,000 people alive today, some people instead complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) claiming that the advert was misleading and could not be substantiated.

Today, following a five-month-long investigation, the ASA has not upheld their complaint.

This investigation saw intensive scrutiny of the estimate produced by Both Lives Matter.

The ASA employed an independent healthcare statistician to investigate the claim and, based on their work, they have found that, in fact, the claim of Both Lives Matter is a reasonable one to make.

As the ASA put it in their report: "On balance, we concluded that the evidence indicated that there was a reasonable probability that around 100,000 people were alive in Northern Ireland today who would have otherwise been aborted had it been legal to do so."

The argument put forward by some that the law on abortion does not stop abortion now needs to be put out to pasture.

Windsor Park could be filled five times over, or Casement Park three times over, by the number of people it is estimated are alive today because of our law and policy on abortion.

These people are our friends, neighbours and family.

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act in Great Britain in October, we also approach the fiftieth anniversary of it not applying to Northern Ireland.

In this context today's decision is valuable.

It gives us in Northern Ireland a reason to celebrate our life-affirming legislation.

We chose a different path from the rest of the United Kingdom, and I for one am glad we did.

Both Lives truly do matter.

As long as I am in politics, I am going to affirm this truth.

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