Pro-lifers present “biggest ever” petition to Stormont
29 November 2016
All the 300,000 signatures were collected in Northern Ireland, which was not the case for the 45,000 on Amnesty International's petition promoting abortion. Image: Precious Life
A 300,000 signature petition opposing change to Northern Ireland's abortion law has been presented to Stormont. MLA Jim Wells said it is the largest petition ever presented to the Assembly.
Mr Wells of the DUP said that all 300,000 people who signed the petition organised by Precious Life had postal addresses in Northern Ireland. In contrast, it has been questioned whether the 45,000 signatures on an Amnesty International calling for the legalisation of abortion were collected from within the region.
Mr Wells told the Assembly: "I am presenting you with what I believe to be the largest petition ever received by the Northern Ireland Assembly - 300,000 signatures - not 45,000 - 300,000 signatures calling for the protection of unborn children in Northern Ireland."
The two petitions come as a panel set up by the Northern Ireland Executive to examine abortion law in is believed to have recommended legislative change in cases of "fatal foetal abnormality". The working group reported its findings to ministers on October 11, but its conclusions have yet to be published.
3D embryo atlas reveals human development in unprecedented detail
The "beautiful and other worldly development" of the human embryo has been revealed in an interactive three-dimensional atlas, reports the Guardian.
A team of scientists in the Netherlands created 3D digital models demonstrating how the unborn child develops in the first eight weeks of life. About 75 students analysed photographs of sections of tissues from the US-based Carnegie Collection of embryos to create the atlas.
"Everyone thinks we already know this, but I believe we know more about the moon than about our own development," said Bernadette de Bakker, of the University of Amsterdam, who co-led the project with colleague Professor Antoon Moorman.
BPAS calls for morning-after pill to be sold off the shelf
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service has called for the morning after pill to be sold in supermarkets alongside aspirin, to avoid "unnecessary and embarrassing" conversations with pharmacists.
"Emergency contraception" was made available at pharmacies in 2001 for women to buy after a consultation with a pharmacist.
However, family groups and pharmacists have criticised BPAS' idea. Norman Wells, from the Family Education Trust, said: "With no questions asked about previous medical history or previous use of the drug, there is a very real danger that it could be misused or overused.
"Dispensing with the requirement of a consultation with the pharmacist would make it easier than ever for the abusers of vulnerable girls and young women to force their victims to purchase the drug - or even to buy it for them - as a way of trying to conceal their crime."
A Department of Health spokesman said that there are no plans to change the system.