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Abortion Clinic - Copyright Burger / Phanie / REX
UK News

3 out of 4 in the UK think abortion should be legalised in Northern Ireland.

A survey carried out by Amnesty International found that the majority of people in the rest of the UK consider it unfair that women are being forced to travel to the mainland for abortions.

But Liam Gibson from The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in Northern Ireland tells Premier he is "not surprised" by the figures, but thinks what people outside Northern Ireland think is irrelevant.

"It's a fundamental principle of devolved government that each country within the United Kingdom should be able to decided for itself what its laws are.

"So it doesn't really matter that 72% of people in England, Scotland and Wales don't agree with a law that applies in Northern Ireland.

"There's a much higher rate of churchgoing in Northern Ireland, so there's that higher level of religious affiliation.

"And that applies to both sides of the community, both Catholics and Protestants."

The laws in Northern Ireland make abortion a criminal offence, which carries a maximum life sentence.

The only exceptions are to save the mother's life, or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health.

Liam Gibson thinks the law as it stands is a fair reflection on human rights law.

"International law does not recognise a right to abortion," he says.

"On the other hand, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child all recognise a right to life."

It is estimated more than 1,000 women travel to have an abortion in other parts of the UK each year.

The Department of Justice in Stormont is to begin a public consultation on amending the law on abortion, looking at whether abortions should be permitted in cases where there is a diagnosis of 'lethal abnormality' in the foetus.

It also aims to address the issue of whether abortion should be available to women who have become pregnant through rape.

The consultation will close on 17th January. 

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