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UN and public opinion back abortion reform


.Alban Maginness (Comment, July 5) argues there is no such thing as a human right to abortion.

Someone ought to tell the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which found that Ireland's law prohibiting and criminalising abortion violated the human rights of Amanda Mellet, a woman who had a diagnosis of fatal foetal impairment.

The Committee found the law subjected her to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and discrimination, in violation of Articles 7 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also found a violation of Article 17 on the right to privacy.

Of course, a similar ban on termination of pregnancy is in force here.

Last year's UN ruling underlines what we have said to the Executive and Assembly - our archaic abortion law must change.

Every government in the UK has pledged to help address the healthcare injustice facing women and girls from Northern Ireland, except the failed administration at Stormont.

The public wants change. The recent Life and Times Survey found that more than seven in 10 people want to see major reform of our abortion laws. Those findings echo the Citizens' Assembly in the Republic, which recently recommended far-reaching change.

Choosing to ignore the UN and public opinion, Mr Maginness refers to the views of someone called Dr Alveda King, apparently a niece of the late, great Dr Martin Luther King.

Not being familiar with her, I resorted to an online search. I discovered she is a member of what is called the religious right, an activist against gay rights, and campaigned for Donald Trump to become president.

That's the same Trump whom Mr Maginness's party leader, Colum Eastwood, referred to as "a grotesque example of a man with a dangerous worldview based on misogyny and unimaginable intolerance", whose win was "a victory of fanatical, fantasy absolutism".

Rather than look for direction from Mr Trump's cheerleaders, I hope all the main parties in Northern Ireland will reflect on their current positions on abortion and legislate in line with international standards and the views of those who elect them.


NI programme director

Amnesty International

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