The SDLP has said it will oppose weakening the abortion law in Northern Ireland, in the wake of a recent consultation on allowing abortion in cases of sexual crime and fatal foetal abnormality.
The SDLP leader and GP Alasdair McDonnell said his party is “unequivocally opposed to abortion”, and warned that the predictions in cases of fatal foetal abnormality are “never accurate”.
Although part of the consultation, the Department of Justice expressed no view on allowing abortion in cases of sexual crime, but has recommended permitting abortion when the unborn child is deemed not to have a “viable” life.
But McDonell commented: “Nobody can predict that a foetus is not viable, and that’s the problem, and as a GP, I’m fully aware.
“I have seen situations where termination or an abortion was recommended to somebody because a foetus that had this, that or the other thing, and that foetus grew up to be a perfectly normal child.”
Meanwhile, a taxpayer-funded human rights quango has been granted permission to seek a judicial review of abortion law in the Province.
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) claims that not allowing abortion in cases of rape, incest or “serious malformation” of a baby contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights.
Tony McGleenan QC, representing the Department of Justice, argued that it was inappropriate for the NIHRC to bring a legal challenge while the consultation processes is still underway.
But Mr Justice Treacy said the case raises “issues of considerable public importance”, and listed it for a full hearing across three days in June.
Life and death
The Christian Institute has highlighted a number of stories from people affected by the life and death decisions of abortion in its Choose Life series.
These included an account from Gary Moore, who was conceived through rape and is grateful that his mother did not give in to pressure to abort him.
And Bonnie and Phil Walker shared how they chose life for their daughter Grace, who was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality but lived for a “precious” 15 minutes.