TUV MLA Jim Allister has said there are “practical” as well as moral considerations when it comes to legislating for abortion in cases of rape.
Mr Allister also said it was important Northern Ireland is not “railroaded” by the result of the referendum in the Republic of Ireland.
On the issue of passing laws to allow for abortion in cases of rape, Mr Allister said the length of time necessary for a court case would pose practical problems.
“If the law says you can have an abortion for rape, who decides if there was rape,” he asked.
“Are you just to take someone’s word for it that they’ve been raped?
“We’ve seen many classic examples of allegations which turned out to be false.
“Are you going to let a doctor decide if someone was raped? That wouldn’t be within their remit. There are practical considerations.”
The North Antrim MLA, a barrister, continued: “You cannot hang it on the peg of rape without establishing that it is rape.
“And the process for establishing if it is rape, in the law, is such that the time frame makes it impractical.”
Mr Allister said he is opposed to abortion in cases of rape for moral reasons.
“There is also the whole issue, and it is a very sensitive issue, that the product of the rape if we can put it like that are not to blame for anything, but they are the ones who are punished the most,” he said.
“Their opportunity to have a life is snuffed out. That is a moral consideration rather than a practical consideration, but it is a very profound moral consideration.
“The whole issue of abortion for rape is beset with that moral dilemma. Of course that ties in with the way that the advocates of abortion give no consideration for the rights of the unborn. They just write them off, which of course takes me to the heart of my opposition to abortion.”
Mr Allister said the referendum result in the Republic of Ireland was not “relevant” to Northern Ireland.
“I am sure the campaigners for abortion are going to try and piggy back on that,” he said.
“But it’s not relevant in the sense that that’s their decision, in their jurisdiction, which they are entitled to take.
“It shouldn’t railroad us. Indeed they take their decision via a different mechanism, namely referenda, whereas in our parliamentary democracy system it is a matter for a legislature – and here it is a devolved issue so it is a matter for an absent Stormont.”