Abortion debate: ‘SF says trust women – but do not trust their own members’

Anne Brolly quit Sinn Fein along with her husband over Sinn Fein's increasingly pro-choice position
Anne Brolly quit Sinn Fein along with her husband over Sinn Fein's increasingly pro-choice position

A former Sinn Fein mayor who quit the party over its increasingly pro-choice position has heaped criticism on its leadership ahead of a planned change to its abortion policy.

Anne Brolly, wife of former MLA Francie, spoke out ahead of a motion at the party’s ard fheis in Belfast tomorrow which – among other things – would demand that all TDs and MLAs obey the views of Sinn Fein’s high council (ard chomhairle) on the issue.

But while Sinn Fein said it currently favours abortions for any reason up to 12 weeks, tomorrow’s motion simultaneously leaves it open for the party’s high council to extend this further in the future.

Anti-abortion campaign group Precious Life has said that, in their reading, the high council-backed motion leaves open the way for abortion on demand right up to term.

Mrs Brolly (ex-Limavady mayor who quit the party in 2016, and whose husband followed suit earlier this year) lamented the fact the motion rules out any possibility of legislators acting on their conscience over abortion, as is common among other parties.

“They’ve used ‘trust women’ as the mantra,” she said.

“They don’t even trust their own party to give them a conscience vote, to allow them their conscience.

“Once it’s party policy everybody must follow the line.”

The phrase ‘trust women’ has become the de facto motto of the campaign to relax abortion laws on both sides of the border.

Sinn Fein’s legislators include five women TDs (of 22), 12 women MLAs (of 31), and a female senator.

Speaking to the News Letter while on a pilgrimage in Medjugorje in the Balkans, Mrs Brolly said the party is attempting to “confuse their voters” by invoking compassion for women as the reason for the change.

“The baby’s been crossed out of the equation altogether,” she said. “Under the guise of compassion, we’ll have a dead baby.”

The motion to be voted on tomorrow calls for terminations “without specific indication”, within “a limited gestational period”.

It also says: “Sinn Fein members of a legislature shall act in line with the view of the ard chomhairle which will be informed by the best available medical advice, when legislating regarding the limited gestational period.”

Precious Life said this opens the door to “literally ‘abortion on demand’ for any reason, right up to birth”, by allowing the gestational period “to be based on the view of the ard chomhairle”.

A motion calling for Sinn Fein members to be allowed a conscience vote also sits on the ard fheis agenda paper.

READ MORE, including the precise wording of the motion: SF’s proposed abortion policy voting diktat ‘gravely immoral’