North must stop ‘exporting the issue’

Colum Eastwood said he was both 'pro-life' and backed the repeal campaign
Colum Eastwood said he was both 'pro-life' and backed the repeal campaign

SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood, has said that it was time to bring to an end the days of exporting the issue of abortion and access to women’s healthcare in Northern Ireland.

The Derry MLA was speaking as he urged that the democratic will of the people of Ireland, expressed in the ‘Yes’ vote to repeal the 8th Amendment, be respected.

The Eighth Amendment was introduced in 1983 and gave equal right to life of a women and her unborn child. On Friday, the Irish people decided by majority to repeal this and allow for provision to be made in law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.

Mr. Eastwood said those on both sides of the debate, which engaged people across the north as well as the south, were to be commended for “emphatically defending their conscience in this referendum.”

Mr. Eastwood said he acknowledged that there were many people of goodwill and integrity on both sides of the debate. “There will be many across our nation who will be unnerved and uncomfortable with this outcome, people of good intent who fought this referendum on the basis of their deeply held beliefs must be met with grace, and our priority must now be bringing people back together,” he said.

He said the Referendum “also comes as a stark reminder how distinctly unfair it is for the people here in the North who cannot legislate on any issue because they are being denied a government for reasons much less insurmountable than the one being overcome in the Republic”.

“Elected representatives in the North must now turn to the facts of the working group report to ensure our laws are fit for purpose and the days of exporting this issue are brought to an end,” he concluded.