Abortion Rights is deeply disappointed by the decision to hand down a suspended prison sentence to an unnamed 21-year-old woman for having an abortion in Northern Ireland. The young woman was unable to afford travel to access a legal termination inEnglandand so bought abortion pills online.
On Saturday 9 April pro-choice supporters will be ‘handing themselves in’ to West End Central Police in central London at 1pm. We are also calling for similar symbolic, small-scale actions across the country. No woman should be criminalised for exercising bodily autonomy.
Kerry Abel, Chair of Abortion Rights, stated: ‘It is outrageous that a woman in this day and age would be criminalised for controlling her own body. Northern Ireland is only hour away across the sea, but 150 years behind in terms of women’s reproductive rights’.
Abortion Rights is asking pro-choice supporters to highlight this difference by symbolically handing themselves into the police here in England, Wales and Scotland where in many cases abortion is legal and women here are not a criminal. We are using the slogans ‘Not a criminal’ ‘Trust Women’ and ‘1 in 3’ to highlight that Department of Health figures in England and Wales have consistently shown that one in three women will have at least one abortion in their lifetime.
We aim to make the point that women in Northern Ireland pay the same taxes and national insurance as women in the UK to have healthcare provided by the NHS; however, unlike women in England, Scotland and Wales, they are denied access to legal abortions.
Notes for the editor
- Abortion is legal in England, Scotland and Wales provided two doctors agree the procedure is in the patient’s best interest. Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland unless the mother’s life is at risk. There were only 23 terminations of pregnancy in HSC hospitals in Northern Ireland during 2013/14.
- In a recent case in November 2015 Judge Horner sitting in Belfast’s high court held that the current law was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights because it did not even allow for abortion when there was fatal foetal abnormality or where the pregnancy was the result of sexual crime.He argued that the law as it stands “smacks of one law for the rich and one law for the poor” because women who cannot afford to travel to obtain a legal abortion elsewhere in the UK are disproportionately affected.
- Abortion Rights (AR) is the UK’s national campaign for a woman’s right to choose. www.abortionrights.org.uk AR is a pro-choice organisation that campaigns to defend and extend women’s access to safe, free and legal abortion.
- The majority of the British public is pro-choice. A recent YovGov poll concludes that 93% support a woman’s right to choose.
- 1 in 3 UK women will have at least one abortion in her lifetime.
- Read our full position statement on Northern Irelandhere:
- Abortion Rights supports Alliance for Choice’s #trustwomen campaign
- Media contact for photographs and interview Alisa Berry-Ryan 07879-403-306