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Pro-life MLA Christopher Stalford dies at 39

Member of the Legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland and pro-lifer, Christopher Stalford, died suddenly over the weekend.

The DUP MLA died at just 39. He had taken over the Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill after Paul Givan MLA, who previously sponsored the Bill, became the First Minister in Northern Ireland.

Mr Stalford was principal deputy speaker and had represented South Belfast since 2016, having served previously as councillor, high sheriff of Belfast and deputy mayor.

He is survived by his wife Laura and four children.

A champion of the pro-life cause

Mr Stalford had been a strong pro-life politician, having voted for life on all 6 votes that occurred during his time in the Assembly. The Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill, which Mr Stalford had sponsored, would have made abortion on the grounds of non-fatal disabilities, such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot, illegal..

At one stage in the discussion with the Stormont health committee, he was highly critical of input from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) who he believed suggested “that the care of those people with disabilities is so difficult that doctors would rather not provide that care”.

He was especially concerned about the impact of the current abortion law on people with Down’s syndrome. The abortion law in Northern Ireland allows babies with Down’s syndrome to be aborted up to birth.

In addition to his pro-life work, his colleagues and friends noted his wry humour, passion for politics and debate, and love for his wife and children.

DUP deputy leader Paula Bradley led a tearful tribute to her deceased colleague saying: “Christopher’s joy came not in holding office but in how he could use that office to improve the everyday lives of those he was honoured to represent”.

“It was a mark of the man that he had friends on all sides of this chamber”.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “Our deepest sympathies go out to Mr Stalford’s family for whom his untimely passing must come as a great shock. His contribution to the pro-life cause in particular should not be forgotten and we will continue this legacy fighting for the right to life for all people, born and unborn”.

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.