A Derry doctor says she has resigned from Amnesty International in protest at the organisation’s call for reform of Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.

Representatives of Amnesty this week delivered a petition of 45,000 signatures demanding reform of the laws to Stormont.

The petition came after a new Amnesty poll claimed that 72% of people wanted abortion permitted in cases of incest and rape - while 67% supported a woman's right to terminate pregnancy when there has been a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality (FFA).

Amnesty said the results of the survey, during which 1,000 people were questioned, indicated increasing support for law changes.

However, Doctor Anne McCloskey, who is based in Derry, said she knew of ‘many’ other people who, like herself, had resigned from Amnesty ‘in disgust’ at the organisation’s stance.

In a letter in today’s Derry News, Dr McCloskey writes: “As a member of Amnesty International since my student days, and sharing their stated aims to promote and defend human rights and to provide a voice for those who have no other, I find it beyond ironic that an organisation whose logo is "Stand up for the Human" is now to the forefront of a campaign which I'm sure would have founder members such as Peter Benenson and Sean Mc Bride turning in their graves - the campaign to introduce abortion to Ireland north and south.

“And be in no doubt, this is their stated aim and position.

“It is not to introduce limited abortion in extreme cases but to assert that access to abortion on demand is a human right.

“Apart from the other arguments, this is not part of their brief, and I know of many who like myself have resigned in disgust, regretting the resources and energy we have spent over decades in furthering what we believed Amnesty represented.

“There are few as voiceless as those Amnesty are now targeting.”

For the full text of Dr McCloskey’s letter, see today’s Derry News.

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