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Consultation due on abortion law reforms

Northern Ireland's strict abortion laws could be changed to make it easier for women carrying babies with fatal foetal abnormalities to access a termination.

Justice Minister David Ford is to consult on proposals to adjust the legislation, which currently outlaws abortion except when the life of the mother is at risk. The move, which has sparked outrage among pro-life campaigners, comes after two high profile cases where pregnant women whose babies had no chance of survival were forced to travel to England for an abortion.

In a statement issued through the Department of Justice, it was claimed the minister recognised the difficult situations facing some women.

The statement said: "David Ford believes there is a question whether, in certain difficult but closely-defined cases, the law's line has been drawn in the right place. The consultation will therefore focus on cases of terminal foetal abnormality."

Mr Ford aims to bring a draft consultation document to the Stormont justice committee no later than March next year. Any change in the law would have to receive cross-party support and Assembly approval.

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