Abortion is a healthcare issue, not about politics or religion

belfasttelegraph.co.uk, 14 September 2015 by Claire McNeilly

Speaking out: Grainne Teggart, Campaign Manager for Amnesty International, says she is proud of the work her organisation is doing in Northern Ireland


Grainne Teggart, Campaign Manager for Amnesty International

Claire McNeilly talks to the Amnesty International’s Campaign Manager about attitudes to same sex-marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland.

Q. Many people here believe abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or foetal abnormality; why do you think it’s been so difficult to get the law changed to bring it into line with the rest of the UK?

A. Mainly it has been political obstruction, because traditionally in Northern Ireland it had been perceived and presented as such a black and white issue. People didn’t understand that there was a spectrum there; it’s not about there being good or bad abortions, it’s not as clear cut when you have, for example, a minor where there’s familial rape and that child is pregnant. Or if a woman has a wanted pregnancy and is given a fatal foetal diagnosis.

Q. But the DUP say there’s not a lot of political support for a change. What’s your opinion on that?

A. I disagree with the DUP. There is political support there, but it’s a difficult issue. There’s a split within certain parties about the best way to address this. We’ve seen, for example, the DoJ (Department of Justice) consulted and a draft paper put to the Executive in June this year and that, so far, has been blocked.

Q. And what if that doesn’t get through the Executive?

A. Then a Bill can’t get into the Assembly. That is why we’ve had to go through the courts, because if our politicians can’t properly deal with these difficult issues then we have to take the legal route. That said, I haven’t given up hope on the Assembly, because public opinion is changing and the politicians will have to reflect that.

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