Green MLA Calls on Justice Minister to clarify position on fatal foetal abnormality

Green MLA Steven Agnew today in the Assembly called on Justice Minister Ford to clarify the position on fatal foetal abnormality following comments by SDLP Leader Alasdair McDonnell.

“In a media interview earlier this month, Alasdair McDonnell claimed that diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality is ‘never accurate’, and I believe those comments were irresponsible, disingenuous and upsetting for many people,” Mr Agnew said.

“I felt it important to get accurate and medically-based information into the public domain and onto the record and that is why I asked the Justice Minister to bring some clarity to the issue. The Minister responded by telling me that as part of the ongoing consultation process, none of the main professional medical bodies have raised any issue about the ability of clinicians to diagnose accurately foetal conditions that are lethal.

“Alasdair McDonnell’s hyperbolic statement was irresponsible because it was not based on sound medical data. Sadly, his comments could give false hope to those who have received such a devastating diagnosis or affected those who have perhaps terminated a pregnancy in the past based on such a diagnosis.

“I call on Dr McDonnell to produce peer-reviewed and medical establishment-accepted evidence to support his earlier statement or publicly retract it. If other parties have a different ideological stance on abortion, then they should debate it from that standpoint and not try to introduce personal anecdotal evidence which causes confusion, upset and obfuscates the key arguments on such an important issue.”

17 February 2015

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