18/10/2016

Almost Three Quarters Of People Support Changes To Abortion Laws

Almost three quarters of people in Northern Ireland support changes to abortion laws, according to a new poll published by Amnesty International.

The results revealed support for abortion in cases of rape, incest and when the foetus will not survive outside the womb.

Northern Ireland is the only place in the UK where abortion is banned in those cases.

The poll also shows an increase in support for access to abortion since a similar survey commissioned by Amnesty two years ago. In 2014, 69% of people in Northern Ireland supported access to abortion in cases of rape, a figure which has now increased to 72%. Meanwhile, 60% of respondents supported access to abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality – this has now grown to 67%.

Adrianne Peltz, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Campaigner, said: "These poll findings demonstrate an overwhelming demand for change to Northern Ireland's draconian abortion laws.

"This is not a small margin of support for women's access to abortion, it's a definitive landslide. Northern Ireland has changed. People who think women should be denied abortions are in a small and ever-decreasing minority. Only one in six people agree with the status quo for abortion laws.

"Not only do a huge majority of people in Northern Ireland want to see abortion made available to women and girls in the tragic circumstances of rape, incest or fatal foetal diagnosis, but they also want to see abortion decriminalised for all women.
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"If the law was changed in line with the overwhelming wishes of the public, we would no longer force women, who have been raped or been given a fatal diagnosis for their pregnancy, onto planes to England and away from their families and medical carers.

"It would also mean that we would no longer see women hauled before the courts for taking or sourcing abortion pills which are prescribed on the NHS in every other part of the UK."

Ministers from the Northern Ireland Executive are considering whether or not to introduce changes to the law to allow abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

However, Bernadette Smyth, Director of Precious life, claims the results are "simply not true".

She said: "A measly percentage of a sample group of 1000 people does not represent the views of the people of Northern Ireland. The latest opinion poll by Amnesty International shows that this so-called 'human rights group' has no regard for the democratic process that respects and upholds the views of the pro-life people of Northern Ireland.

"The results of the last Northern Ireland Assembly Election in May 2016 showed that the majority of people of Northern Ireland vote for pro-life politicians who they entrust to defend our pro-life laws and defend the right to life of all unborn children, regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or circumstance of conception.

"The people of Northern Ireland have repeatedly told the Northern Ireland Assembly that abortion will never be in their name. In 2013, 250,000 petitions were presented to Stormont calling for the closure of the Marie Stopes centre in Belfast in 2013. In September 2014, 35,000 petitions were presented in support of an amendment which sought to close the Marie Stopes centre in Belfast."

(CD/JP)

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