Sugden to face abortion test

28 Jul 2016 Nick Garbutt    Last updated: 28 Jul 2016

It will not be long before we find out what new Justice Minister Claire Sugden meant when she said she would adopt a “subtle” approach to abortion. 

Back in February she voted against allowing terminations in the case of fatal abnormalities thus helping to defeat change being proposed by her predecessor David Ford. She has since indicated she would be prepared to countenance change after full examination of the issue had taken place. 

She backed a proposal from the DUP to set up a working group to examine the issue. This group has just been named. You can find the full list here. It is chaired by the Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride who is well qualified to assess the legitimacy of the SDLP’s claim that "there is no such definition" as fatal foetal abnormality.

The group is expected to report back in September. Cynics are entitled to wonder why a group of civil servants have been left with the task of untangling what is essentially a political/moral/human rights/religious issue.

Northern Ireland’s abortion laws have already been found to be in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights, a decision which is now being appealed. 

This debate will re-surface when the Assembly returns in the Autumn. We will then see if it is possible for a Minister to be “subtle” when faced with the divisive and emotive issue of reproductive rights. 

Join the Conversation...

We'd love to know your thoughts on this article.
Join us on Twitter and join the conversation today.

Join Our Newsletter

Get the latest edition of ScopeNI delivered to your inbox.