Aontú concerns over abortion legislation

The forthcoming introduction of abortion legislation for Northern Ireland has no guidelines around medical practice or protections for medical professionals who conscientiously object, Aontú representatives have warned.

Retired GP and Derry City & Strabane District Aontú Councillor Dr Anne McCloskey.
Retired GP and Derry City & Strabane District Aontú Councillor Dr Anne McCloskey.

The new all-Ireland political movement were speaking at a public meeting in Derry recently which it called to discuss the implications of recent legislation passed through Westminster, which will come into effect on October 22 if Stormont is not reconvened before this date.

The audience heard the views of T.D. Peadar Tobín, leader of Aontú, and from Councillor Anne Mc Closkey, a local doctor and Aontú’s member on Derry and Strabane Council. The speakers also participated in a lively discussion with the audience afterwards.

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The Aontú representatives said that Westminster parliament had passed a law back in July which was tagged onto an unrelated piece of legislation, “without the vote of a single person who represented people in the north”.

The party representatives said Sinn Féin and senior SDLP had lobbied for the legal framework under which abortion services have been provided here. “It was debated for seventeen minutes, in comparison to for example, the law around foxhunting, which got 700 hours of the honourable members time,” they said.

Speaking about the Derry event, the Aontú representatives in a statement added: “The audience were reminded that our pro-life laws have saved the lives of an estimated 100,000 people in the north. Ireland without abortion was one of the safest places in the world for mothers and their young. Health care meant trying to achieve the best outcomes for both mothers and their babies in every pregnancy. Now, this new bill means that abortion will be allowed for any reason, including disability of the baby, if the foetus is of the ‘wrong’ gender, or simply inconvenient.

“Between October 22, and March, when definitive legislation can be decided, there will be ‘guidelines’ around medical practice, but no legal sanctions for those who do not adhere to them.

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Likewise, there will be no meaningful protections for medical and ancillary staff who have deeply held conscientious objections to ending the lives of the preborn under their care.

“Across the north, tens of thousands of people have marched, stood in silence, written submissions and letters, and signed online petitions to their elected representatives begging them to go back to work for even one day, to block this,” they added.