May 26 2010
Abortion laws should be liberalised, more than half of NI's practising gynaecologists have suggested.
An academic survey claims that the majority of gynaecologists in Northern Ireland "do not support the current abortion law as it stands".
Many also said they would carry out abortions under certain conditions.
Sexual health charity FPA said this "rubbished" claims by anti-choice groups and politicians that "there is no place for abortion in NI".
Of 42 gynaecologists working in Northern Ireland, 37 took part in the survey giving a response rate of 88%.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they would support liberalising the current abortion law with more than two thirds agreeing that abortion should be legal on grounds of fetal abnormality.
Asked what conditions under which they would personally carry out abortions, 70% said they would be prepared to on grounds of fetal abnormality and 49% said they would where the woman has been raped.
The survey, 'Attitudes and practice of gynaecologists towards abortion in Northern Ireland' (2009), was conducted by Colin Francome, Emeritus Professor in the Sociology of Health, at Middlesex University, England.
It suggested that: 68% of NI gynaecologists agreed that abortion should be legal when the woman had been raped; 73% wanted free abortions for Northern Ireland women forced to travel overseas for the procedure; and 51% supported major abortion charities being licensed to carry out abortions in Northern Ireland.
Only 32% said the abortion law should stay as it is.