Northern Ireland must not decriminalise abortion, say pro-lifers

Both Lives Matter

Pro-life campaigners have denounced Amnesty International's campaign pushing for the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland.

Amnesty was staging a march in Westminster on Tuesday to deliver a petition to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland supporting decriminalisation in the region. 

The march was led by 28 women, including stars of the Derry Girls TV show, who together represented the number of women who travel from Northern Ireland to England or Wales for an abortion each week. 

In a counter protest, pro-life group Both Lives Matter held its own demonstration in Westminster with women holding boxes containing 100,000 names representing the number of people alive today because of the current restrictions on abortion in Northern Ireland. 

The group is demanding that the Northern Ireland Secretary of State ensure that Westminster respects devolution. 

Abortion remains in the criminal code in the UK but women can still access the procedure if their life or mental health is at risk.

But MPs in the UK have been accused by pro-lifers of trying to use Stormont's ongoing suspension as a way of decriminalising abortion across the UK by the backdoor.

Dawn McAvoy, co-founder of Both Lives Matter said that without the criminalisation of abortion, unborn babies would have no protection.

'Amnesty, whose leadership have offered to resign following a recent internal report which found significant incidences of bullying, sexism and public humiliation, need to get their own house in order,' she said. 

'Instead they are organising another publicity stunt that ignores the approximately 38 babies born every week in NI directly because of our pro-both laws.

'While English MPs and comedy actresses are entitled to their views, this is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland.' 

A recent survey found that two thirds of women in Northern Ireland and nearly three quarters of all 18- to 34-year-olds (70%) believe that legislative decisions concerning abortion laws in the country should be made by its own politicians in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Ms McAvoy continued: 'The criminal law is important when it comes to abortion - and we all know why we need criminal law in a wide variety of areas of life for the good of society. No-one wants to use it, but we need to have it.

'Without it, the unborn would have no protection at all. That would mean a hawk's egg would have more protection than an unborn baby.'