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Pregnant Alliance councillor hits out at SDLP MLAs over abortion comments

 

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Kate Nicholl

Kate Nicholl

"I respect that people have different views on this and that it can be a contentious issue for some," said Councillor Nicholl.

"I respect that people have different views on this and that it can be a contentious issue for some," said Councillor Nicholl.

Kate Nicholl

A pregnant Belfast councillor has criticised two pro-life SDLP MLAs for their social media comments around abortion.

Alliance Councillor Kate Nicholl was speaking about a tweet from the SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan in which he said he had responded to hundreds of emails re-stating his pro-life position.

She revealed she was pregnant and "delighted to be".

Mr McCrossan said he was opposed to abortion and expressed his "huge concern about the legislative proposals from Westminster to allow abortion up to seven months here".

He was responding to SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone.

In a tweet on Tuesday Mr McGlone said: "Just sent clear Pro-Life response to over 200 emails I've received in last couple of days from constituents complaining about the undemocratic Westminster imposition of abortion on the North #notinmyname".

Responding Kate Nicholl said: "As a woman who is pregnant and delighted to be, the idea of going through all of this  - and *not* wanting the pregnancy - is just so cruel."

 

Parliament voted in July to force the Government to liberalise access to abortion and allow same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland if devolution is not restored.

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.

Women need to be supported, not criminalised.

Councillor Nicholl told the Belfast Telegraph she respected people have different views "and that it can be a contentious issue for some".

"I've always been pro-choice and I've always believed people should be able to make their own decision about their bodies.

"I'm 25 weeks pregnant myself and I have a whole new perspective in that it's a massive change.

"I really want this child and I'm delighted to be pregnant but I'm conscious of being pregnant all the time and I realise how difficult that must be if you have an unwanted pregnancy."

Councillor Nicholl said what she takes issue with is Daniel McCrossan and his fellow MLA Patsy McGlone's advocating against choice, when she says what women really need are legislators who respect their ability to decide for themselves.

"I find the focus on their being against abortion legislation being reformed a little bit hollow when they're using the threat of devolution as an excuse. They don't seem to have the same issue with equal marriage," she said.

The Alliance Party currently allows for a vote of conscience on matters relating to abortion.

"I don't think there's an acceptance that for a lot of women it's incredibly difficult. It's not just a form of contraception and women need to be supported, not criminalised."

Mr McGlone said that Councillor Nicholl was "entitled to her opinion as are the hundreds of thousands of people who are pro-life".

"I have been elected as a pro-life representative to speak up on behalf of my constituents, including the most vulnerable, the unborn children," the Mid Ulster MLA said.

"I want to wish her the very best with her pregnancy and hope that she has a very healthy child."

Mr McCrossan also wished Councillor Nicholl the best with her pregnancy but said that there were differing views on the issue of abortion "in every political party and in every household".

The West Tyrone MLA said that he believed there were members of the Alliance Party who shared his pro-life view.

"Does she also take issue with those in her own party?," Mr McCrossan asked.

"I’ve been responding to constituents all week on this issue. I’ve been asked my position and I’ve answered honestly that I’m pro-life.

"Both Patsy McGlone and I have been subjected to considerable abuse on Twitter for being honest about our position on this complex and sensitive issue.

"Abortion is a very contentious subject which arouses great emotional feeling on either side of the debate. That said, we would urge all who publicly debate this issue to be moderate and considerate in their use of language and that respect be shown to all sides involved in debating this issue with differing views."

Belfast Telegraph