Belfast Telegraph

Abortion reform: Baroness Paisley wants parties to return to Stormont to stop legislation change

Baroness Paisley
Baroness Paisley

The widow of the late Ian Paisley has called for the DUP and Sinn Fein to return to Stormont to prevent Northern Ireland's abortion laws being reformed.

In a letter to the News Letter Baroness Paisley called for someone to break party political cover and "save the day".

In July, MPs passed the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act, which contained a provision placing a duty on the Government to legislate for same-sex marriage and reform abortion laws in Northern Ireland.

It comes into effect if the Stormont executive is not restored by October 21.

Currently terminations are only allowed in cases where a woman’s life is at risk or if there is a danger of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health.

In her letter Baroness Paisley wrote that Northern Ireland is "only two short weeks away from a dramatic change in our law".

She said that the decision facing Northern Ireland's political parties is "the greatest test of our political leadership".

"Until now, like many thousands in our province, I have hoped and prayed that the greater good might prevail and that our elected representatives might lay down their differences, take up their mandate and return to work with the not inconsiderable aim of preventing such a wholesale turn about in the law regarding abortion,” Baroness Paisley wrote.

“The various arguments as to why they are choosing not to do so need no repetition  by me. We are wearied by their scrambling to claim the higher ground.

“But right now the hard-won devolution powers which have the potential to reap a fine harvest for us, are being left to perish in the field.

Thousands of people stage a silent demonstration at Stormont over the planned liberalisation of abortion laws in Northern Ireland (PA)
Thousands of people stage a silent demonstration at Stormont over the planned liberalisation of abortion laws in Northern Ireland (PA)

“This issue, above all others, will set the trajectory of our future. By it we will become a Province known for choosing to preserve the sanctity of life, no matter the trends and preferences elsewhere, or we will be numbered with everywhere else and welcomed as having at last joined the ranks of the ‘advanced world’.”

Secretary of State Julian Smith met with church leaders in Armagh on Wednesday evening to discuss changes to Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

After the meeting Mr Smith said that the message from church leaders was "very clear".

"They want Stormont back, and now," he said.

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