Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Pro-abortion motion fails at Queen's University Belfast

Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer who blogs at Pro-Life Belfast, has kindly sent me this exclusive report:
"In an extremely close vote a motion calling for the legalisation of abortion in the Republic of Ireland was narrowly defeated at the meeting of the Students' Union Council, of Queen's University Belfast on Tuesday 27 November. The motion stated:
'This Council notes that, last month, a woman died 17 weeks into her pregnancy as a result of being denied an abortion. Savita Halappanavar was miscarrying and was denied a medical termination over two and a half days because the unviable foetus still had a heartbeat.

This Council also notes the great tragedy that this is for Savita's family and friends.

This Council recognises that the X case, a case ruled on by the Irish Supreme Court 20 years ago and never acted upon by Government, called for abortion if a woman's life was at risk due to pregnancy. Council further recognises that, if X case legislation was made into law, then many women in Savita's position would not be exposed to the same fate.

This Council resolves to express a message of condolence for Savita, her family and friends. This Council also agrees to send a message of support to the group 'Action on X', which actively campaigns for X case legislation in Ireland and to actively support the efforts of activists likewise fighting for abortion rights on the island of Ireland.'
In an unexpected victory for pro-life members of the council, an amendment to delete the last two paragraphs was adopted. In the debate that followed on the amended motion Ciaran McKinley, the president of the university's pro-life society, argued that it was too soon to draw definitive conclusions regarding the events surrounding Mrs Halappanavar's death and therefore the motion was potentially defamatory. He also asked if the council was going to adopt such a motion on other equally tragic cases.

With 17 votes in favour, 17 against and 17 abstentions, the motion fell when the speaker also abstained.

After such a close fought debate pro-life members of the council expect the motion to be re-introduced. However, doubts are growing over the accuracy of the initial media reports and even the basic facts are now in question. In a less impassioned debate attempts to link Mrs Halappanavar's death to calls for the legalisation of abortion may look increasingly like the cynical exploitation of a tragic loss of a young woman and her unborn baby."
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