Archbishop accuses Ford of exclusion on abortion consultation

Archbishop Eamon Martin.
Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Catholic Primate of Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin has accused Northern Ireland’s Minister for Justice of attempting to exclude pro-life arguments from the consultation process on changing the abortion law in Northern Ireland.

Minister for Justice David Ford has recommended that abortions should be allowed in Northern Ireland where the foetus has a fatal abnormality.

Derry-born Archbishop Martin, who met Mr Ford at Stormont on Thursday morning for what was described as a robust exchange of views, said he was shocked that the minister sought to exclude pro-life arguments from consideration, as the consultation document says that such issues will not be considered relevant.

Archbishop Martin said this cast doubt on the credibility of the whole consultation process itself.

He said he had told Mr Ford that, “instead of removing the right to life of a terminally-ill unborn child, we ask the Minister to change the law to make it a right to adequate peri-natal and post-natal care.”

The consultation period on proposed changes to abortion laws in Northern Ireland ends this week.

The North’s Justice Department expects to publish its recommendations by the middle of this year.