Ford says resignation shows need for abortion law reform

Alliance MLA David Ford has said the resignation of a paediatric pathologist over interventions by the Attorney General on abortion law demonstrates the need for MLAs to legislate to allow termination in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities (FFA).

South Antrim MLA Mr Ford was speaking after the resignation of Dr Caroline Gannon, who said the interventions by John Larkin made her position “untenable”.

“As Minister of Justice, I tried to introduce legislation to legalise abortion in the narrow area of FFA but I was blocked in the Executive. Meanwhile, the various drafts of guidelines from the Minister of Health created a chill factor, which meant doctors felt threatened with criminal prosecution if they carried out a termination unless there was irrefutable evidence of a threat to the woman’s mental health.

“The fact Dr Gannon now feels she cannot carry out her duties to her patients is a clear demonstration the law must be changed. I do not wish to see so-called ‘abortion on demand’, but I do believe the law should allow compassion to women faced with a dreadful diagnosis who feel they cannot carry a foetus to full term.

“I hope MLAs will now be willing to consider the realities of the situation for a small number of women and allow abortion where two doctors make a clear diagnosis there is no possibility of a viable life.”

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