Pro-life people across Northern Ireland have been urged to contact their MLAs ahead of tomorrow’s vote on enacting exclusion zones outside abortion centres in the province. The controversial Bill, which, if made law, would ban pro-life people from praying outside hospitals and centres performing abortions in the North, will be voted on at Final Stage tomorrow at Stormont.
Belfast-based pro-life organisation Precious Life urged people to contact their local politicians, and thanked people for taking the time to telephone SDLP and UUP MLAs (who supported the Bill) ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
“We pray for all of our politicians, that they may be guided to be courageous and stand from the crowd and do the right thing, by voting against the Bill and to sign the Petition of Concern tomorrow,” Precious Life said in a statement on Monday.
As reported by Gript last week, it was recently revealed that only 13 of 6,412 submissions to a public consultation in Northern Ireland were supportive of ‘exclusion zones’ banning prayer, witness and pro-life advocacy outside abortion centres in Northern Ireland.
Despite only scant support for the Exclusion Zones Bill, MLAs voted for the Bill to proceed at ‘Further Consideration Stage’ on the 14th of March. It will be voted on at “Final Stage” which is when the legislation gets passed into law or not. Ahead of the vote, pro-life groups encouraged people to contact MLAs from the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP, with all MLAs from these parties supporting the Bill.
Belfast priest, Fr Paddy McCafferty, also urged people to encourage their MLAs to vote against the Exclusion Zones Bill. He challenged allegations of ‘harassment of women’ outside abortion providers, stating:
“There are unsubstantiated allegations of “harassment” against women attending these abortion centres. The PSNI already have the powers to arrest anyone harassing a member of the public and there are already laws in place to prosecute such offenders.”
Fr McCafferty went on to say: “The prayer and witness, or pro-life vigils outside abortion centres, has saved many children’s lives. This law is an attempt to suppress the pro life witness. The pro abortionists cannot tolerate any voicing of an alternative to their narrative.
“This law will suppress freedom of protest and freedom of speech. There is very little public support for this contrived legislation based on lies and slander. It is being driven solely by fanatical idealogues, who are determined to bury and silence any voice, that dares to disagree with them.”
He added: “If implemented, this unjust law will criminalise innocent and law-abiding people whose only crime will be their opposition to the evil of abortion, their desire to dissuade people from killing a child and their offering of support and help to pregnant women.”
Fr McCafferty said that the last remaining hope of defeating the legislation is for MLAs to support a petition of concern to halt the progress of the ‘safe zone access’ bill. He encouraged people in the North to contact their MLAs encouraging them to sign the petition of concern.
Calling out the SDLP and the UUP, who have both shown ambiguity on abortion, Precious Life added: “The SDLP and UUP have members who say they are “pro-life.” We urge these MLAs to do the right thing and vote against the Abortion Zones Bill on Tuesday March 22nd, and sign the petition of concern to stop the criminalisation of pro-life people in Northern Ireland.”