Abortion law needs changed now, says Long

Changes to abortion law in Northern Ireland should not be held up by party politicking, Naomi Long MLA has said.

The East Belfast MLA was speaking after sources revealed to the BBC a group set up to examine the law has recommended legislative change in cases of fatal foetal abnormality (FFA). The working group, established prior to May’s election, was due to report at the beginning of October but its findings have yet to be made public.

“This issue has already been ducked once, when the Executive failed to support David Ford MLA’s proposed changes to the law, largely because some parties were conscious of the upcoming election and were afraid to tackle the issue,” said Mrs Long.

“Now the DUP appear to want more time to consult within their party before even making the findings of the working group public. We all know legislative change is needed – we knew that before the election as well.

“The Health Minister and Justice Minister ought to have published the report and started work on implementing it immediately rather than allowing this to be delayed further. David Ford has proposed a private member’s bill seeking similar reform on FFA, which is ready to proceed and Stewart Dickson MLA has submitted an urgent question to the Minister asking her to publish the findings of the group immediately, in order to address the issue instantly.

“We know the overwhelming majority of the public recognise the need for change to the law. The issues have now been debated and discussed for years. The Executive need to act without further delay to help women who decide to seek a termination in these very difficult circumstances and who do not have the luxury of time when it comes to their decisions.”

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