Sinn Fein steps in at the last minute to call an end to the Stopes farce…

So it falls to Sinn Fein, alone of all the major parties to do the right thing on an amendment to Stormont’s Criminal Justice Bill, which as Philip Bradfield notes “would effectively forbid abortions from being carried out in Northern Ireland, except within the National Health Service (NHS)”.

They alone have the power to raise a petition of concern to effectively block the move in the legislative Assembly. It certainly would have suited the SDLP if Sinn Fein had ‘come out’ before last week’s byelection.

With support from figures like Mickey Hart it would have created a hot button issue that might have wrought serious damage on the SF vote. But the larger questions here are for the SDLP.

This move would have done everything to increase state control of medicine, and nothing at all to regulate abortion in Northern Ireland. The truth is that taking out Marie Stopes is an easier option for OFMdFM than writing clear legal guidelines for obstetricians.

It amounts to direct control by bureaucracy than by law. A deeply unsatisfactory state of affairs whichever side of the lobby you stand on. Or as Brian put it last last week they were trying to bring in “an unnecessary ban on a non-existent threat.

We may have Sinn Fein’s all island project to thank for this move. Having broadcast their position in favour of legislating for the X case, they could hardly let such a weak piece of stroke politics pass.

That’s a positive pressure. The SDLP might learn that politics is sometimes about how you act in the interests of the longer term. And that not every risk your rivals undertake is an opportunity to punish them.

Let’s hope for greater candour from Sinn Fein on the need to produce guidelines that are fit for purpose. That is allow clinicians to make tough decisions in the interests of the mother as well as the child on the spot and at the time it is needed.

And without fear that some Perm Sec will show up breathing down their necks. If that’s not a cross community issue then I don’t know what is?

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  • DC

    Well if we are going by looks, should we be paying much attention to mick fealty 🙂

  • DC

    ^that was a joke – keep your cards in your pocket!

  • Lionel Hutz


  • Lionel Hutz

    that doesn’t look very professorial

  • carl marks

    Professor Yattle
    What does a person’s appearance have to do with what they say, I’m no oil painting myself and I suspect very few of our posters are things of beauty.
    But maybe I’m wrong so how about a honest pic of you so we can all drool over it and see that “truth is indeed Beauty”.

  • Lionel Hutz

    In the interests of transparency, I’m just letting you all know that I am an exceptionally good looking man. But this doesn’t mean that I think you should take my views more seriously. One of the reasons I post anonymously is that i have become aware that when I exchange views with people face to face, my good looks can often make others lose their senses and just agree with what I say. its for your own protection dear posters that I will spare you getting caught up in my aura by refusing to reveal my identity…..

  • Professor Yattle

    Come on now Lionel. Can it be incidental that Moran, one of NI’s worst trolls, literally looks like troll?
    As for Fitzjameshorse, I think we now understand his antipathy towards the very tall David Ford.

  • Coll Ciotach



    I already know why they opened – it is to perform legal abortions when doctors either evade or refuse to do on the NHS for various reasons. When I said that above you called it “twaddle”.”

    It is twaddle – for how would they know if the NHS have refused the person an abortion unless they told them? And why would the NHS refuse what is a legal entitlement? It would be liable for legal action surely. So if they had refused it would be due to it being deemed illegal.

    The truth is they will offer their services as an alternative to the free NHS. The availability of these services in other areas does not stop them competing for customers there so I do not accept that reason for their expansion into the market here.

    So I stand by my original response. Twaddle.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It is twaddle – for how would they know if the NHS have refused the person an abortion unless they told them?

    Because the rate of abortions carried out in order to protect the life of the mother within Northern Ireland is lower than for any other part of the UK. How else can the disparity be explained ?

  • Coll Ciotach

    Funny that – how are the maternal death rates here as compared to the other parts of the UK and how many of those are attributed to not having an abortion?