Friday, 28 March 2008

Abortion row brewing

While Ian Paisley senior might be coming to end of his career as Castle Buildings (home of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister), he returned to the Westminster scene this week. It came to his attention that an amendment to the current controversial Embryology Bill going through Westminster might bring Northern Ireland into line with GB with regard to abortion. Should this happen, the reaction of MLAs will be interesting. Abortion is a very sensitive subject. Many of our MLAs are on the social conservative end of the spectrum and take the view that they do not want abortion ‘extended’ to NI. Of course abortion does actually occur in NI society – since 1967 an estimated 64,000 women have traveled from the region to Britain to have abortions. It seems people are content to let people avail of abortion services as long as it does not physically happen here.

If Westminster were to ‘force’ Northern Ireland into line, one assumes there would be steps in the Assembly to oppose such a measure. This could be a potential headache for the Health Minister and the Assembly Health Committee. Could it be that Sinn Féin and the DUP would unite on this issue?

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