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Pro-Life group Precious Life have released a statement concerning tonight's proposed  'Accessing Healthcare Services' Motion at the monthly meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down Council.

The Motion submitted by Councillor Róisín Howell states “This Council believes that any member of the public accessing healthcare services is entitled to do so free of abuse, fear and intimidation and will write to both the Health Minister and the Justice Minister asking them to take steps to ensure this.”

Protestors have gathered outside Daisy Hill Hospital in recent weeks.

In the statement Bernadette Smyth, Precious Life said "Abortion is not healthcare. In every abortion, a baby is killed and a mother left physically and/or emotionally hurt. This Sinn Fein motion is a blatant attack on pro-life groups’ democratic and human rights to hold peaceful vigils outside abortion centres. By referring to “abuse, fear and intimidation” in the motion, Cllr Howell is making the false presumption that abuse, fear and intimidation is actually taking place. Has the council any evidence from the PSNI that any abuse, fear and intimidation has taken place? There is always a PSNI presence when pro-life groups are outside abortion centres. The PSNI already have adequate powers to deal with any “abuse, fear or intimidation” were to take place."

Ms Smyth continued "Sinn Fein are on record calling for “Exclusion Zones“ to be created outside abortion centres. So called “Exclusion Zones“ would effectively criminalise any person engaging in any pro-life activity outside the abortion centres.

“Exclusion Zones“ are discriminatory as they would only target pro-life groups. Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights – and protected under Articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act. Sinn Fein have supported - and taken part in – countless protests about various other issues for decades. Those who they protested against might also say they felt abused, fear, or intimidated."

The Precious Life statement claims Sinn Fein have described signs and posters used by pro-life groups as “distressing, horrific graphic images” but suggests there are many other organisations that use “graphic images” including animal rights activists and even the government  Ms Smyth's statement concludes "If Sinn Fein think that images of babies killed by abortion are horrific, then the actual horrific act of killing a baby by abortion should also be too distressing to be allowed in the Newry Mourne and Down district."

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