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BELFAST (ChurchMilitant.com) - More than 300,000 pro-life signatures on a petition were presented to the Speaker of the Assembly in Northern Ireland Monday. This was in response to a pro-abortion petition with 45,000 signatures submitted to the Assembly last week.
All 300,000 signatures were collected by Precious Life, Northern Ireland's best-known pro-life organization. Bernadette Smyth, the director of Precious life, commented, "Anyone from anywhere in the world can sign Amnesty's online petition. A person signing Amnesty's online petition is only asked to provide his or her name and email. These petitions hold no weight and should not be taken seriously by the Northern Ireland Assembly."
MLA Jim Wells, who presented the petitions to the Speaker of the Assembly, said "Today I am presenting you with what I believe to be the largest petition ever received by the Northern Ireland Assembly — 300,000 signatures — not 45,000 — 300,000 signatures calling for the protection of unborn children in Northern Ireland."
He went on to say, "These have been signed by Northern Ireland residents who have given their address and can be verified so therefore I believe that this petition is indeed authentic."
Last year, a High Court judge ruled that Northern Ireland's near-complete ban on abortion violates the rights of women, including rape and incest victims. The ruling, however, has had practically no effect, since only legislators can change the law in question.
Justice Mark Horner wrote in his decision:
In the circumstances, given this issue is unlikely to be grasped by the legislature in the foreseeable future, and the entitlement of citizens of Northern Ireland to have their convention rights protected by the courts, I conclude that the article eight rights of women in Northern Ireland who are pregnant with fatal fetal abnormalities or who are pregnant as a result of sexual crime are breached by the impugned provisions.
As a result of Northern Ireland's pro-life stance, Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is considering offering free abortions to women from Northern Ireland.
She remarked, "I am happy to explore with the NHS what the situation is now in terms of the ability of women from Northern Ireland to access safe and legal abortion in NHS Scotland and whether any improvements can be made."
In response, Clare Bremner, a post-abortion counselor for the Abortion Recovery Care Helpline, commented, "The woman's plight doesn't end with the abortion, so we could ask the Scottish Government if it would take responsibility for the counseling and support for women grieving, distraught and traumatized by their abortion experience?"