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Sinn Féin support Assembly debate on Abortion

22 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Assembly group leader, John O'Dowd MLA has said that the party voted to support a DUP motion on the draft guidelines on abortion issued to medical staff by the Department of Health.

Speaking after listening carefully to all the contributions to the debate Mr O'Dowd said:

"Sinn Féin is not in favour of abortion nor do we believe that the 1967 British Abortion Act should be extended to the Six Counties. Instead all possible means of education and support services should be put in place to prevent crisis pregnancies.

"We would not support any attempt to make abortion more widely available but we do accept that health professionals working in this field need clear guidance.

"We have been consistent in our approach. When the abortion issue was discussed in the last Assembly Sinn Féin placed on record our very firm opposition to the extension of the British 1967 Act to the north.

"Sinn Fein is opposed to the attitudes and forces in society, which pressurise women to have abortions, and criminalise those who make this decision. In cases of rape, incest or sexual abuse, or where a woman's life and health is at risk or in grave danger, we accept that the final decision must rest with the woman.

"We have a responsibility to not only address the issue of abortion but also the fact that between 5,000 and 10,000 Irish women travel to Britain each year for abortions. The way to tackle the related issues of crisis pregnancies and abortion is through comprehensive sex education, full access to child-care and comprehensive support services, including financial support for single parents.

"This position guides our attitude to the issue being debated today. After listening carefully to all the contributions to the debate Sinn Féin voted in favour of the DUP motion today." ENDS

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