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70% “support Northern Ireland abortion law change” says survey

17 October 2016

Amnesty International has been campaigning to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland.

Amnesty International has published an opinion poll which claims that 70% of people in Northern Ireland support a change in abortion law, the BBC reports.

Amnesty has not released the full questions asked in the survey, but have focused on the fact that 72% agreed that abortion should be lawful if the pregnancy was as a result of rape or incest. The survey questioned 1000 people face-to-face in their homes.

"Serious questions about reliability"

Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland Development Officer, said: "There are serious questions about the reliability of this opinion poll and the make-up of the 1000 people surveyed. Only one in ten of those questioned were supporters of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The DUP is the largest political party which is pro-life and received 30 percent of the vote in May's Assembly election. This fact alone shows that pro-life opinion has been significantly underrepresented and calls into question the credibility of the whole survey."

"The issues people were asked about - abortion for children with life-limiting conditions or allegedly conceived through criminal sexual activity - were the subject of a public consultation carried out by the Northern Ireland Justice Department in 2015. The vast majority of those who took part rejected proposals to liberalise the law. Only 133 respondents supported the proposals while over 1,500 wanted the current law to remain unchanged. In addition, a petition with 23,622 signatures and 20,197 postcards from people within Northern Ireland were delivered to the department supporting the right to life of all unborn children regardless of their disabilities or the circumstances of their conception."

"Moral absolutes the only protection for weakest in society"

On the question of legislating for abortion in the case of sexual crime or foetal disability, SPUC's Education Manager Anthony McCarthy said: "Ultimately the only protection for the weakest and most vulnerable members of society are moral absolutes. If we make exceptions to moral absolutes then we no longer have a principled absolute protection for all of us generally - protection for all is diminished by being withdrawn for some. When laws like this one are proposed, the random callousness expressed towards those the law would permit to be killed undermines any coherent ethical system other than what the powerful desire."

Police in New Zealand seize illegal suicide drugs

Police in New Zealand have arrested a woman in possession of suicide drugs, in a nationwide operation against euthanasia group Exit International.

The woman arrested faces charges of importing a Class C drug. The police have not commented on the case, but the drug is believed to be Nembutal, which is used in assisted suicide.

Philip Nitschke, the head of Exit International who is popularly known as "Dr Death", says the woman hasn't done anything wrong and the law needs to change. "The only way you get the drugs is by breaking New Zealand law," he says.

Irish pro-life campaigner receives death threats

A pro-life campaigner in Ireland has claimed that he received a death threat at his home.

John O'Donovan from County Cork says that he was woken up by banging on his front door at 3am on Sunday morning. He then found that a newspaper had been posted through the door with the words "Die pro life f***" written on it. The incident was reported to the police.

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