Jim Shannon/PA

Christian MP in NI abortion law plea

Tue 24 Oct 2017
By Alex Williams

A Christian politician has said democratic values in Northern Ireland must be upheld, amid scrutiny by the Supreme Court of the abortion laws.

Democratic Unionist, Jim Shannon responded to calls by campaigners for a relaxation of legislation, insisting any change must warrant the support of voters.

Fiona Hanson and PA Wire


The MP for Strangford told Premier the majority of people in Northern Ireland support current laws - which prohibit a termination, even on the grounds of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality.

He told Premier: "I'm more of a mind that, if we're going to make changes, those changes be comprehensive changes which take in the opinion of the citizens of Northern Ireland and also their elected representatives; we've got to do that in a very careful way."

Representing the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), which initiated the proceedings, Nathalie Lievan QC told a seven-judge panel that existing laws subject women to "inhuman and degrading" treatment.



During the three-day hearing, the NIHRC will argue that abortion laws in Northern Ireland - which hasn't adopted the 1967 Abortion Act - infringe on women's right enshrined in the European Convention of Human Right (ECHR)

This week's hearing at the highest court in the land comes after Northern Ireland's three most senior judges overturned a ruling by the High Court in Belfast that the country's abortion laws were illegal.

The justices will consider, firstly, whether current laws are compatible with the ECHR and, secondly, whether the NIHRC could initiate further proceedings and argue that abortion legislation in Northern Ireland is incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998.

Click here to listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking with MP Jim Shannon:

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