Monday 11 December 2017

Northern parliamentary pro-life group has no female representatives

Eoghan McNeill

It has emerged that an anti-abortion parliamentary group in Northern Ireland does not include any female representatives.

The group – called the All Party Pro-Life Group – states its purpose as:

“To uphold the sanctity of life, including the life of the unborn child, and to promote a pro-life perspective in the Northern Ireland Assembly.”

All Party Groups are forums where members of Northern Irish parliament and outside organisations can meet to discuss shared interests in particular causes.

The group’s members include Jim Wells, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who opposes abortions for women who have been victims of rape:

“A termination of a pregnancy should not be the first option in that situation.

“That is a tragic and difficult situation but should the ultimate victim of that terrible act, which is the unborn child, should he or she also be punished for what has happened by having their life terminated?

“No,” he told BBC’s The Nolan Show in 2012.

David McIlveen, another DUP member, is a retired preacher known for his campaigns against homosexuality.

Jim Allister, a Traditional Unionist Voice representative in the group, called for GAA jerseys to be banned in universities earlier this year.

The group lists Bernie Smyth of Belfast anti-abortion group Precious Life as its main point-of-contact.

Smyth is the subject of ongoing legal action regarding her alleged harassment of the director of a Belfast sexual and reproductive clinic.

The news comes after a speaker at a pro-choice protest in Dublin called on men to respect the role of women in the pro-choice movement:

“I am saying to all those men – know your place. This is a women’s movement. And your support, as much as it's always needed, you must always remember you are here are here to support women,” said Osaro Azamosa, Irish Feminist Network.

 “I love and respect and appreciate the men who do this. But remember your place. This is a women’s movement,” she added at Wednesday’s rally.

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