Northern Ireland news

DUP call for working group on fatal foetal abnormality

The DUP made the announcement on Tuesday night ahead of a debate on abortion on Wednesday

THE DUP has asked Health Minister Simon Hamilton to set up a working group into fatal foetal abnormality.

The party made the announcement on Tuesday night ahead of a debate on abortion on Wednesday.

Politicians are to discuss whether the law in Northern Ireland should be changed to allow abortion in cases of rape, incest, or when an unborn child has a life-limiting condition.

Two Alliance assembly members, Stewart Dickson and Trevor Lunn, have put forward amendments to David Ford's Justice Bill, which would allow abortion to be permitted in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

The DUP is opposed to extending the 1967 abortion act to the north.

However, it said the issue of fatal foetal abnormality needs to be properly considered.

"We believe that this issue should best be dealt with in a measured way rather than in haste and without the benefit of appropriate scrutiny," the party said.

"Rushed law can often turn out to be bad law. Indeed we understand that the Attorney General has concerns about these amendments. This justice bill was not intended for this purpose. The party will therefore oppose the various amendments on this issue."

It said it had asked Mr Hamilton, a DUP minister, to set up a working group by the end of this month.

The party said the group will include "clinicians in this field and legally qualified persons to make recommendations as to how the issue of fatal foetal abnormality can be addressed including, if necessary, draft legislation".

"We would expect that they would consult with interested parties including those who have been affected," it said.

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