Derry pro-choice group ‘disappointed’ at abortion law decision

MLAs voted against amendements to laws on abortion in the North earlier this week.
MLAs voted against amendements to laws on abortion in the North earlier this week.

A pro-choice group has said it will continue to campaign for changes to abortion law in the North despite a majority of MLAs voting against amending legislation.

Assembly members voted 59 to 40 against amending abortion law in the North on Wednesday. The amendment had been tabled to allow for terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and sexual crime.

The Derry branch of pro-choice group, Alliance For Choice, said they were “disappointed” with the result of the vote.

“Although we are disappointed at the result, our #Trustwomen Campaign will keep abortion firmly on the political agenda in the run up to the Assembly Election,” said a spokesperson.

“The campaign will push for progress on abortion legislation in Northern Ireland, which is currently one of the most restrictive in Europe. We firmly believe that women should be trusted to know what is best for themselves and their families.”

The 1967 Abortion Act does not apply in the North of Ireland.

The laws used to govern the abortion in the North are sections 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 and sections 25 and 26 of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945 (which are derived from the corresponding provisions of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929).

The Christian Institute welcomed the outcome of the vote and described it as heartening.

“It is heartening that the majority of MLAs have voted to uphold the sanctity of life today at Stormont. There has been a media campaign to undermine the legal protections afforded to our unborn children, but thankfully politicians have resisted that co-ordinated pressure.

“Abortion is not good health care for women. Instead we need to look at improving perinatal hospice care provision for babies with very limited life expectancies,” a spokesperson said.

Six MLAs from the Foyle constituency took part in the vote.

SDLP leader and MLA, Colum Eastwood, Mark H. Durkan MLA (SDLP) and Gerard Diver MLA (SDLP) and Gary Middleton MLA (DUP) all voted against the amendment whilst Maeve McLaughlin MLA and Raymond McCartney MLA (both Sinn Fein) voted for.