Abortion row flares between Mid Ulster MLAs

Parliment Buildings Stormont. Pic Bernie Brown
Parliment Buildings Stormont. Pic Bernie Brown

Two Mid Ulster MLAs have become embroiled in a row over abortion.

DUP member Ian McCrea said he was appalled to watch Ulster Unionist MLA Sandra Overend walk through the Stormont lobbies to vote against his party’s amendment to the justice bill, which was designed to stop private organisations like Marie Stopes from carrying out abortions.

He claimed it was “the height of hypocrisy” for Mrs Overend and other UUP MLA’s to claim to be Pro-Life yet reject a DUP amendment to the bill.

He called on Mrs Overend to explain her position to the people of Mid Ulster.

“It is time Sandra Overend informed the electorate why she voted as she did and why she didn’t inform the electorate at the recent Westminster election of her intention to vote to keep the Marie Stopes Clinic unregulated,” he said.

Expressing surprise, Mrs Overend responded by suggesting Mr McCrea concentrate on his own work, “on properly reading and understanding proposed legislation, and his own voting record, instead of scare-mongering and spinning untruths.”

“The DUP amendment which he speaks of made no mention of Marie Stopes clinic, or indeed the 1967 Abortion Act, and so it is wholly inaccurate to suggest that my vote on that amendment can be taken as endorsement for any individual organisation, and certainly not the 1967 Act,” she continued.

“The people of Mid-Ulster will not appreciate the petty bickering brought on by Mr McCrea, and while I usually prefer to rise above such attacks I feel it is important to set out the truth.

“I should explain exactly what this amendment was really about for the benefit of those far removed from the workings of the NI Assembly, and hopefully Ian McCrea will take note. The amendment was not about reducing the instances where abortions might take place, as Mr McCrea might think it would.

“In fact, the amendment proposed limiting the choice of the people of Northern Ireland to access an abortion, under existing legislative guidelines, only through the NHS rather than a private clinic, something that people invariably do for all sorts of other health matters.”