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Woman with fatal foetal abnormality forced to go to England for abortion urges DUP to think again

Sarah Ewart
Michael McHugh

A WOMAN who aborted her baby after being told it would have no chance of survival, has urged the DUP to 'walk a mile in her shoes'.

Sarah Ewart told how she had to leave Northern Ireland for a termination in England in 2013 in the most "traumatic" of circumstances.

She has fought a long legal battle to liberalise abortion law in Northern Ireland in the face of opposition and has urged Prime Minister Theresa May step in.

Northern Ireland will be the only part of the UK or Ireland where the procedure is largely outlawed after the Republic voted overwhelmingly for change in a referendum at the weekend.

Ms Ewart, who was told at her 20 week scan that her baby had a fatal foetal abnormality and would not survive, said: "I would just say to the DUP, walk a mile in our shoes before you make a judgment, because it is very difficult and a very devastating time and it is very traumatic to have to travel when you are grieving for a baby and thinking about going away, it is just awful."

Campaigners for change believe Northern Ireland's strict law violates women's human rights by not allowing abortions in cases of sexual crime (rape and incest) and where the foetus would not survive birth due to a fatal abnormality.

The Stormont Assembly is suspended due to the collapse of powersharing months ago and the British Government is under pressure to step in and legalise terminations.

Ms Ewart added: "This is a medical procedure, nobody knows what is going to land at their door.

"We as a family were probably judgmental before this landed at our doorstep.

"We heard the word abortion, not for one minute would we have thought it was for a medical reason."

Ms Ewart's legal case galvanised an issue which has since made its way to the UK Supreme Court.

Mrs May is under pressure to intervene in the Northern Ireland debate following the two-to-one vote in favour of reform in the Republic.

Her Government is propped up in key votes by the DUP, which opposes any relaxation in the law and which has opposed any change in Northern Ireland under devolution.

Amnesty International's Northern Ireland campaigns manager Grainne Teggart said: "Devolution is no justification for the denial of women's rights and it does not relieve the UK Government of their responsibility to ensure that women's right to abortion is upheld.

"A failure to act would make Theresa May's Government complicit in the harm and suffering of women caused by Northern Ireland's restrictive abortion laws," she claimed.

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