Northern Ireland

NI abortion debate: Sarah Ewart wants meeting with First Minister Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster
Image caption Sarah Ewart says she has been promised a meeting with Arlene Foster

The woman whose case sparked a debate about terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities says she wants to meet First Minister Arlene Foster before the issue returns for debate in the assembly next week.

Sarah Ewart has met two Alliance MLAs.

They are proposing an amendment to a Justice Bill which would make abortions legal in such cases.

She says she has been promised a meeting with Mrs Foster and Health Minister Simon Hamilton.

However, Ms Ewart and her mother Jane Christie say they have yet to secure a time.

She says she wants the DUP to give its MLAs a free vote on the issue of foetal abnormalities.

Both Green and Alliance MLAs are seeking to amend the Justice Bill making its way through Stormont in order to liberalise the law on abortion in Northern Ireland.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Sarah Ewart met with two Alliance MLAs at Stormont on Monday

According to the Green MLA, Steven Agnew, the Justice (no. 2) Bill is provisionally scheduled to be debated again in the assembly chamber on Tuesday 9 February.

Judgement

Mr Agnew has submitted amendments which would make abortions legal in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities or when a child was conceived as a result of rape or incest.

Alliance's Stewart Dickson and Trevor Lunn say they have submitted a "strictly worded amendment" which would apply specifically to fatal foetal abnormality only.

Alliance say abortion law is "a conscience issue" and this is not changed by the Justice Minister David Ford's decision to appeal against a recent judgement on the matter by Mr Justice Horner.

In November, the judge ruled the law in Northern Ireland does not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights in cases of fatal foetal abnormality or sexual crime.

Mr Lunn says that if a free vote is allowed he believes a majority of MLAs will back his amendment.

Mr Agnew says he believes the latest Justice Bill provides an opportunity to bring " Northern Ireland's archaic laws" up to date.

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