Belfast Telegraph

MP Creasy who helped secured free abortions for NI women says move 'not political cynicism'

By Cate McCurry

A Labour MP who was instrumental in securing free abortions for women from Northern Ireland travelling to England has defended herself after critics accused her of political cynicism.

Stella Creasy was given a police escort to a discussion on abortion held at the West Belfast Festival, which was picketed by anti-abortionists.

In June, Ms Creasy's surprise amendment to the Queen's Speech led to funded abortions in England for women from Northern Ireland.

Following the proposed amendment, the Government immediately announced a policy change and found funding for the policy.

The move meant the DUP wouldn't have to vote against the Conservative programme for government - thus saving the DUP-Tory deal.

Yesterday, Ms Creasy joined a panel of other abortion campaigners at the Time For Change event. The Labour MP said she got involved in the London Irish abortion rights campaign after meeting women from the group within her constituency.

Speaking in response to Dr Aaron Edwards, an academic and historian who accused the Labour MP in this newspaper of engaging in "cynical political posturing", she said: "I had been asking and trying to meet with (Secretary of State) James Brokenshire for some time about this, then the general election got in the way and then they did this deal with the DUP, and the Government said that social issues weren't part of the deal.

"For me social issues are an absolute integral part of a better future for everyone.

"People will look at it and say this was about scoring points but the reverse is true - it's about why we are all here, why does it matter to get re-elected, why does it matter to be championing causes."

She went on to criticise the Department of Health here for its failure to update abortion guidelines for health professionals.

She told the discussion group she was "horrified" by the department's response and claimed that people in Northern Ireland want to see a change in its abortion laws.

"When a community and a parliament is out of sync with one another that's not democratic," she added.

"What we have done in the UK Parliament is not the solution but it's a step forward. The question is, how do we get to a solution for that disjunction between where people are now and what the politicians are offering?"

The Labour MP was given a police escort from the Falls Library after anti-abortion group Precious Life held a protest.

A spokeswoman for the group said: "If we want a society of equality, choice can't take priority over life."

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