SDLP to vote against Justice Bill amendments

New leadership team and a new raft of MLAs fueled speculation that there might be a change in policy from the SDLP on this issue. Particularly since the new leader was stressing the “progressive” elements of his platform.

However,  the party has decided to stick to it’s current policy and vote against the amendments to the Justice Bill in the Assembly today.

A party spokesperson said;

The SDLP is a pro-life party and we do not support the extension of the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland. We will be voting against these amendments.

We support the view of clinicians that these amendments are flawed. The party has also sought and received legal advice which confirms this view.

The Justice Bill was not intended for this purpose and these last minute amendments from individual members of the Alliance Party are no way to deal with the complexity of this issue.

The SDLP recognise that this is one of the most sensitive issues faced by women here. We recognise it needs to be addressed.

We are today calling on the Minister of Health to publish the new guidelines as a matter of urgency. This is what senior medics have asked for. We support that call.

We note the working group being set up by the Minister for Health. The SDLP will engage with others in this process and we encourage all interested and affected parties and individuals to do so too.

I know outside of the Stormont bubble this policy will in reality do little to hurt the party and that MLA’s such as Alex Attwood did say a while back that he did support terminations in the cases of fatal foetal abnormality, but later the then SDLP leader, Alasdair McDonnell said the party was opposed to abortion in all cases.

(6 mins in Attwood comments from 2013)

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  • Croiteir

    So it is progressive to slaughter children in the womb so as to prevent them being slaughtered outside the womb. That convinces me.

  • Graham Parsons

    It is immoral to force a woman who has been raped to go through with a pregnancy. Plus it isn’t a child at less than 10 weeks it merely has the potential to become one.

  • Simon Salter

    When parents find out at their twenty week scan the unfortunate sad news their baby is so seriously ill it wouldn’t live after its birth (if it’s lucky to stay alive to that point), who are we benefiting from not having an abortion at that stage? Why would we put parents through the trauma of continuing the pregnancy?

  • Croiteir

    If it gets special treatment over catholic medium education the answer is yes.
    As for university no I do not believe they are anti-Catholic, I do not know why you even asked that? Why would I campaign for a Catholic university? I do not want a party specifically opposed to divorce and contraception although I would vote for it – your ESP aint working too well.

  • Croiteir

    It is a child – if not perhaps a puppy

  • murdockp

    You are a sensitive sort. I don’t hate the SDLP but I find it frustrating that you have a large pool of middle class voters out there and you keep adopting policies that drive them away.

    As for the anti gay marriage letter she signed off as an SDLP member not in a personal capacity and she still gets parachuted in as a candidate.

    Rather that keep telling me I am wrong let us look at the results and they will prove who was right and who was wrong.

    If you turn out to be right I will gladly apologise to you.

    The point on abortion still remains women in 2016 deserve choice.

  • New Yorker

    Should the entity in the womb have human rights and protection or not? And, if not, why?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Well expect that minor political earthquake because the Greens are going for and trying to improve on them 717 Unionist transfers Monica McWilliams (Womens Coalilation) got when she took the 6th MLA seat in South Belfast !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    It could have been worst I could have called him a “Planter Head” but I will leave that party piece to others on this forum. Ask your mates about the 2015 Westminster Campaign in South Belfast ?

  • Gopher

    Assembly ducks another decision due to election, not sure if your allowed to mention the obvious bias theocratic bias of a certain legal person on here but its Saudi! Another Quango. Why does this have to be referred to a quango? Its an issue of individual choice and should go straight to referendum. They could run it the same day as the Brexit vote cost little, they could run the gay marriage one the same day. The Assembly is a dead duck.

  • chrisjones2

    Its not a child …its a collection of cells

  • chrisjones2

    Oh yes. every sperm is sacred and its only a woman forced to carry it so it really doest matter. Not her choice.

    Exactly why the SDLP is unfit for Government …it would bring back the days when the Archbishop of Dublin vetoed Irish legislation

  • chrisjones2

    You are entitled to your belief as are those in the DUP who deny that dinosaurs existed….no matter how stupid irrational and unfair it may be.

    What you are not entitled to do is abuse and potentially destroy the rights and lives of women in the most dreadful circumstances

  • chrisjones2

    abortion is almost invariably linked to poverty

    Nonsense. What about cases of FFA and where the foetus is incapable of life? Whats the difference between removing that and excising a tumour that may kill the woman?

  • Croiteir

    you are a collection of cells – we all are

  • Old Mortality

    ‘…abortion is almost invariably linked to poverty’
    What nonsense. One powerful argument against legal abortion in NI is that those who ought to take advantage of it are the least likely to do so which would result in a relatively greater number of children being raised in ‘disadvantage’.

  • mjh

    TE
    I’m not sure how far one can push an equivalence between the Women’s Coalition and the Greens, nor why we should expect the current pattern of PUP transferring to revert to its very different pattern back in 1998 and 2001. However let’s see what would happen if both were true.

    Let’s assume:
    1) Votes available to transfer from unionists as per your assumptions
    2) Greens get the same proportion of transfers as the Women’s Coalition in 1998
    3) Each unionist party transfers as they did in 1998.

    This would give about 300 or so transfers to Alliance and about 320 to the Green.

    Add the Conservatives into the mix (whose 1998 transfers are not known since they were eliminated on the first count along with 5 other candidates) and you are probably looking at an equal split.

  • SDLP supporter

    ‘ an “abortion” at 40 weeks is usually called a Caesarean’. Have you considered the absurdity of that statement? An abortion is the deliberate killing of the unborn; a Caesarean is not that.

  • SDLP supporter

    She wasn’t ‘parachuted in’. As far as I am aware, she was democratically selected by paid-up SDLP members, so your use of that phrase is prejudicial. I have already dealt with the issue of ‘choice’ elsewhere on this thread; in practical terms, ‘choice’ is constrained over vast and important areas of all our lives.

  • SDLP supporter

    “every sperm is sacred”: I never said that, so don’t you dare put words in my mouth. What I do assert is that human life begins at conception and that, however awful the circumstances of that conception, the innocent life brought into being deserves protection.

  • Barneyt

    aye…but depends on the issue. If they were overtly racist but ticked a series of other boxes, it would be acceptable to shun the party. Equally their stance on womens rights can have the same effect.

  • Barneyt

    I see them more as Christian Democrat over and above Social Democrat.

  • SDLP supporter

    “those who ought to take advantage of it are the least likely to do so which would result in a relatively greater number of children being raised in ‘disadvantage'”
    How quaintly Victorian! So you believe the undeserving poor should be encouraged to get rid of their unborn children? That sounds like eugenics to me. I cite the contemporary case of Dr. Kermit Gosling of Pennsylvania who has been convicted of performing tens of thousands of abortions on poor, young, black women living in the ghettoes,

  • Gaygael

    Yes. I am running against all the other parties and individuals standing in North Belfast, not just the sdlp. If I don’t get elected, I will want my transfer to go to another progressive. It wont be the SDLP.

  • Gaygael

    They SDLP had a free vote. Not a single member supported either amendment.

  • Kevin Breslin

    If the PUP doesn’t stand in Belfast and its hinterlands, I would think it would be confined to the Waterside of Foyle.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think gendjinn’s taking “abortion” to literally mean anything that stops (aborts) the pregnancy, which would in those literal terms also include Ceasarean births and natural factors such as childbirth, miscarriage (medically called a spontaneous abortion) and the death of foetus resulting from the death of the pregnant woman.

    It’s a semantic point to call all these abortions in the literal sense, but I get it.

  • Graham Parsons

    What about IVF. Do you support it or not?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Any chance of explaining that permutation in Sandy Row Rangers Club next week mate ?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    COWARDLY BA————————-SDs I hope South Belfast Remembers !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Thanks Mate for that wonderful evaluation that is why the 3K Loyalist Vote in East Belfast made the Difference !

  • Gaygael

    They were sliding down my list. Now they are done.

  • SDLP supporter

    You ask would I ban IVF? From my limited knowledge of the subject, I would say ‘No’, for the intention is to create life, not destroy it, as is the intent of abortion. Neither would I ban women who miscarry from trying for a child, for the intent is to bring life into being.
    I have answered your two questions straightforwardly, now I have one for you. The foetus in the womb is, as you say, ‘a bunch of cells’. But as someone else has pointed out on this thread we are all a bunch of cells, but we are also human beings. I believe that human life begins at conception, that the foetus in the womb is a human being with potential, not a potential human being, and that the available scientific opinion to me backs up my belief. What is your belief on this matter, Graham Parsons? Straight question, straight answer, please.

  • Brendan Heading

    We agree, but for me this hasn’t influenced my decision on when to transfer to the SDLP. I knew they opposed any kind of abortion reform – they have never attempted to hide this. Nonetheless, on many of the other issues they are still more liberal than the DUP or UUP.

  • Brendan Heading

    I respect your belief that life begins at conception.

    Fundamentally, you don’t respect my belief (and that of a lot of other people) that it doesn’t. If you did, you wouldn’t characterise abortion as equivalent to reckless and irresponsible acts such as smoking in front of a classroom or drink-driving. I hope one day you never find yourself in the situation where you have to repeat the argument you just made to a friend or family member who is a rape victim or has been told that their baby has no brain and therefore no prospect of life outside the womb.

    There’s nothing further to discuss on this particular point. I’ll address the question of “progressive” in the other reply.

  • Brendan Heading

    Well, this is just trying to set the narrative. I guess all parties do it. But it’s daft.

  • Brendan Heading

    The elapsed period that the fetus has been in gestation for is entirely germane to the question of whether it has human rights and protection.

  • mjh

    Thanks for the kind invitation. These days I divide my time between England and Italy – so sadly cannot make it.

    As for the calculation. In 1998 the PUP in SB transferred 8.5% to Alliance and 14.1% to the NIWC. The other unionist candidates together transferred 3.6% to Alliance and 2.7% to NIWC.
    To the 1k first preference votes you propose for PUP we have to add the transfers that the party would receive before it was eliminated. In 1998 that added 35%. So applying 8.5% to 1350 we get around 115 transfers to Alliance. 14.1% gives around 195 to Green (substituting for NIWC).
    Doing a similar calculation for the remaining unionist candidates gets to the transfer figures I gave.
    But you’re probably right – the calculations are much more interesting over a couple of pints.

    Do you ever come near Rome?

  • Brendan Heading

    The reason I was pointing this out was not to observe things that have changed, but to point out what happens when there is no access to abortion. Abortion is accessible to all women in Northern Ireland (the point of contention is principally around the artificial barriers maintained by those who feel the need to indulge in a fantasy that the law here prevents it from taking place), and that is the reason why these kinds of deaths and injuries are substantially non-existent.

    How you define yourself is of no interest to me, and equally I’m not going to get into passing judgement on whether people are truly progressive or not.

  • Brendan Heading

    1. I really don’t want to get into my personal opinions of when the line is drawn. It won’t persuade you or anyone else to change their view, and we’ll just get into an argument about differing opinions of when life commences which has been done to death a zillion times over. If you really want to find out about these arguments, you can use Google and assume that I substantially agree with the broad consensus of pro-choice opinion.

    2. E&W abortion stats are here (this document is a summary). It says that 80% of abortions are performed under 10 weeks, and that this proportion is increasing over time. Further, 92% of abortions are conducted under 13 weeks.

    3. No idea why pro-choice people fought to reduce the rate.

    4. I am not comfortable with abortions that occur beyond the end of the first trimester – this accounts for only around ~10% of abortions. I’m profoundly uncomfortable with abortions that occur after the second trimester, but as far as I know this is extremely rare.

    5. Highlighting activities that occur in one country with an elaborate system of castes and another which is a communist dictatorship enforcing a one child rule for most of its existence does not undermine the case for women having choice.

    The rest of your contribution is a whole can of worms. Firstly, it is a fallacy to link birth rates with abortion rates, on a number of different levels – access to contraception being one, women actually having rights to things like careers and the decision over when to get pregnant being another.

    Secondly, the inference that can be drawn from your observation about birth rates (I’m not sure if the stats lead to the conclusion that you say they do, but let’s assume for the moment that they do) – and I will happily stand corrected if I am misrepresenting you – is that you seem to think that there is some kind of responsibility incumbent upon women to bear more children to serve the national interest. The suggestion that the responsibility of women to support the country by acting as incubators against what they believe to be their own will is an unusual attribute of a self-defined social democrat.

    Implicit within the desire to see women equal with their male counterparts in every aspect of society, including major aspects such as their career and their desire (or not) to raise children, is the right to control when they are or are not pregnant. I cannot see how this can be seen as anything other than a fundamental prerequisite of the term “progressive”.

  • New Yorker

    If you are using time to determine if the entity is a human you must be defining human as restricted to a strictly biological being without immaterial elements and capacities which is a definition of human that leads to absurdity. If you include the immaterial dimension the only logical starting point is fertilization and that is why “elapsed time” is irrelevant.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Standing at Election Counts and watching the same old sectarian head counts has always been boring for me. I prefer watching the transfers on the ballot papers and predicting who they are going to and looking at the count elimination board and making hard calls as to the last running horses scrapping home on transfers.
    Funny you mention Italy. I work for an Italian Company based in Genoa, been there a few times for meetings and also taken in a few Sampdoria Games. Been to Rome a few times too. The next time I am there I will call you up and hold you to that Pint !

  • Barneyt

    They are indeed. They know the earth is not flat, which is a mark of a progressive party in our neck of the woods

  • Ryan A

    Yeah the most ‘unionist’ seat that couldn’t support a choice of unionist candidates. Puts a hole below the waterline in your argument that Alliance only chases “Middle Class Catholic” votes. Vote going up everywhere and chiefly driven by age I believe, not religion or class.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    East Belfast 2015 YOU LOST ! Get Over it and stop mopeing around and move forward and concentrate on getting a vote base in West Belfast !

  • Ryan A

    Lol. Coming from someone who can’t handle the fact he has permanently lost control of the council and his beloved flag with it.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    NO MOPERY HERE ! REMEMBER 2015 !
    Always look on the Bright Side of Life !

  • Brendan Heading

    I respect your opinion, but it is your opinion and nothing else.

  • ferlalf

    pro life is progressive. life equality is intrinsically progressive.

  • ferlalf

    Most people in Northern Ireland are prolife. Northern Ireland could do work to improve health but in fairness its best in Europe in some health metrics.

  • ferlalf

    Pro abortion is retrogressive not progressive.

  • ferlalf

    96% are healthy and well. If you punched a women at 10 weeks and she miscarried you’d be charged for Child destruction. You can’t face the facts that an unborn life is a human life in all moral and biological definitions.

  • ferlalf

    You are backtracking. You defended UK style abortion on demand. No you talk about terminally ill babies because you know its indefensible.

  • Gaygael

    That’s nonsense.
    There is nothing progressive in forcing women to carry an unwanted pregnancy. I actually prefer living breathing real life women to a foetus.

  • ferlalf

    We all have human rights but parents have responsibility to their offspring that supersede freedom to live their own lives. its barbaric to argue that a parent can kill of a newborn and its also barbaric to argue for killing og those not yet born.

  • Gaygael

    We are obviously not going to agree on this one. Nobody is advocating the ‘killing of a newborn’ – I really don’t see how you got there?
    I am arguing for women to be given choices. In every circumstance, every time, I trust women. They know what is best for themselves and their families (if they have one). Neither you, nor the state nor I do.

  • Brendan Heading

    I’m not sure what I’m backtracking on. I’ve never hidden from the fact that I support women’s right to choice. Not sure what you mean by “terminally ill babies”.

  • Brendan Heading

    Actually, no you wouldn’t. Under the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 1945, child destruction only applies when the woman has been pregnant for at least 28 weeks.

    I accept, and respect, that you believe that human life begins at conception. I don’t, and no, there is no medical or legal consensus that a human is “biologically alive” from the point of conception. If there was, then there would be no such crime as abortion; just murder.

  • ferlalf

    Isn’t that like a 19th cen gentleman arguing that if men of colour had the same biological abilities of whites slavery would not exist hence we can rule out this possibility? The foetus is not an organ of the mother or a tumour. It is living independent entity of our species. You can’t possibly argue that a foetus is not a life. Perhaps you mean to argue that the foetus is life but not worthy of equality.

  • ferlalf

    You refereed to terminally ill babies in your last post. even though the flow was about healthy babies that compromise the vast majority of abortions.

  • Brendan Heading

    I have never used the term “terminally ill babies” in the course of this discussion. I just did a search of the thread, the first mention of the term was your post above.

    The “flow” was about the fact that almost all abortions occur before 10 weeks and that it is emotive rhetoric to characterise a 10-week old fetus as a “perfectly healthy baby”.

  • Brendan Heading

    Isn’t that like a 19th cen gentleman arguing that if men of colour had the same biological abilities of whites slavery would not exist hence we can rule out this possibility?

    No, it isn’t.

    The foetus is not an organ of the mother or a tumour.

    I never said it was.

    . It is living independent entity of our species.

    I disagree. The law in Northern Ireland that the fetus is not “independent” until after 28 weeks.

    You can’t possibly argue that a foetus is not a life.

    You’re right, I can’t, and neither can you. What we can both do is hold an opinion, which is exactly what we’re both doing.

    Perhaps you mean to argue that the foetus is life but not worthy of equality.

    No, I don’t.

  • ferlalf

    No, did refer to them in other words though. 10 week foetuses are babies but its a dumb point for you to make as common English is nether scientific or precise.

  • Brendan Heading

    10 week foetuses are babies

    In your opinion.

    but its a dumb point for you to make as common English is nether scientific or precise.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Gaygael

    Hi Elder.

    Here is a screen grab from last month when I posited the SDLP were anti-choice.
    Dolores Kelly was clear that it was a free vote. Not a single representative voted for choice for women. Seems Alex Atwood changed his mind.

    I will be very interested to see if the residue of ‘progressives’ left in the SDLP will try to change party policy. How many times have policy changes and motions on this issue been shunted?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cb47cb0df3cf2cdbcd93673a4804e7150165b901416dd54718a3aed7dd787be4.png

  • ferlalf

    If it is not life what is it? I am fascinated to know how you compartmentalize biology on this matter.

    Legal independence in NI has nothing to do with the biological concept.

  • Brendan Heading

    If it is not life what is it?

    If you want this question answered, google it. It’s been answered many times over already.

    Legal independence in NI has nothing to do with the biological concept.

    I disagree. The independence of the foetus in law is based upon medical consensus. They don’t just make stuff up.

  • ferlalf

    Th medical censuses? Of 1929? The law is not up to date and never even intended to define biological concepts.

  • CatholicLeft

    Nothing on earth would make me want to vote Fianna Fail; a shocking bunch of populist shysters.

  • Brendan Heading

    The law reflects medical opinion. Everybody knows that there is a crossover point, before which the fetus cannot survive outside of the womb. Technology has pushed that crossover point further back. It is in or around 24 weeks. (it’s still 28 weeks in NI). But the crossover point is there.

    I’m not sure what you are trying to accomplish with your contributions here. You’ve been categorically wrong on a number of points, and you are trying to argue a position that has been long since lost – abortion has been legal in most of the Western world for decades and it is unlikely that this will change. Is there anything else I can do for you ?

  • ferlalf

    What medical definition? There is no such medical definition. Viability has nothing to do with when life starts. In fact the only attempt to make such definitions has identified conception or implantation as the start of life. Nothing magic happens at 28 weeks. If you are going to discuss the topic please get your facts straight.

  • Brendan Heading

    What medical definition? There is no such medical definition

    I didn’t say there was a “medical definition”. I said “medical opinion”.

    Viability has nothing to do with when life starts

    I never claimed that viability was anything to with “when life starts”.

    Nothing magic happens at 28 weeks

    I never claimed that anything magic happened at 28 weeks.

    I ask you again – what is it you are doing here ? You’re not replying to anything I said, you’re replying to things that you imagine I said, and you’re attributing opinions to me that I specifically avoided making reference to.

  • ferlalf

    Can you share this secret medical opinion that you are privy too? If you agree that viability is not the reason why did you pick 28 weeks?

  • Brendan Heading

    It’s not a secret medical opinion, you can find out if you’re willing to do some research. Few doctors believe that life begins at conception, their religious views aside.

    This conversation is extremely tedious, so this is my last reply.