A 45,000-strong petition calling for major changes to abortion legislation in Northern Ireland has been branded “flawed” by a Christian advocacy group.
The petition was delivered to the steps of Stormont in a wheelbarrow by representatives from Amnesty International yesterday.
However, CARE (Christian Action Research & Education) has described the petition as “less than robust” and raised a number of concerns.
CARE Northern Ireland Policy Officer Mark Baillie said: “The fact that it does not ask you for an address or postcode makes it possible for people to sign the petition more than once under a fake name, and more worryingly, there is no requirement for the signer to be from Northern Ireland.
“This obviously causes significant problems as Amnesty are attempting to persuade members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to overhaul the current laws on abortion.
“Assembly members should be aware of the fact that there is no way to verify that the 45,000 names are indeed legitimate or have any connection to Northern Ireland and react to this position accordingly.”
The petition comes after a new Amnesty poll found 72% of people wanted abortion permitted in cases of incest and rape – while 67% supported a woman’s right to terminate pregnancy when there has been a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.
A spokesperson for Amnesty International told the News Letter: “It was made clear from the outset that this petition drew support from across the UK.
“It is wholly in sync with the results of the recent poll, which revealed that almost three-quarters of people living here want to see Northern Ireland’s draconian abortion laws changed.”