A draconian new law making a pro-life presence outside abortion facilities illegal was passed in the Northern Assembly yesterday evening by 55 votes to 29.
The Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) law was strongly backed by Sinn Féin and the SDLP. The DUP and TUV voted against the new law. The main sponsor of the legislation, Green Party MLA, Clare Bailey, previously volunteered for pro-abortion group Marie Stopes.
MLAs voted in favour of the bill despite the Assembly receiving 6,412 submissions from members of the public opposing it, and a mere 14 submissions in favour.
Before the law passed, Alina Dulgheriu from the pro-life group ‘Be Here For Me’ appealed to MLAs in Stormont to pull back from endorsing the radical measure.
Recalling how she herself almost went though with an abortion but for a chance encounter with a pro-life person outside the clinic, Alina said: “I saw on the abortion provider’s [Marie Stopes] website that the clinic offered pre-abortion counselling. I called and asked for some help. ‘We only offer abortion’, came the glib reply. The day that I turned up to my abortion appointment, a volunteer outside the clinic gave me a leaflet. It offered the help that I had been searching for. I couldn’t be prouder of the life my daughter and I have charted out together. The reality is that so many women like me have had to make an abortion appointment not through choice, but by pressure. A BBC poll last week showed that more than one in ten women have felt “coerced” into having an abortion. This could be at the hands of an unsupportive partner like mine; or parents, or friends telling women that there’s no way that they could ever handle motherhood”.