Abortion Rights has called for a demonstration to urge Government to end the human rights violation against Northern Irish women by legalising abortion, on Tuesday 5th June, Houses of Parliament.
We have just witnessed a historical referendum in the Republic of Ireland, where the majority of people want to see abortion laws liberalised. The eyes of the world are on Ireland, and yet Northern Ireland retains one of the harshest abortion regimes around the globe.
Abortion Rights Chair, Kerry Abel said:
The current laws that govern abortion in Northern Ireland were made in the age of Queen Victoria. The Abortion Act 1967 which allowed legal abortion in England, Scotland and Wales was not extended to Northern Ireland.
The UK government has been overseeing an injustice that would force women to remain pregnant against their will, or to make criminals of themselves procuring their own abortion, if they are not able to travel outside of Northern Ireland to Britain for safe, legal abortion services.
It is shameful that this government is allowing Northern Ireland to be forgotten, even in the wake of recommendations to liberalise the draconian abortion laws from human rights organisations, parliamentary research groups, and even Northern Irish Councils.
In March this year, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Population, Development and Reproductive Health recommended that coalitions must be built to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland. Teresa May’s coalition with the DUP is a step in the wholly wrong direction.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) says that the current abortion laws in Northern Ireland amount to grave and systematic violations of women’s rights. CEDAW also report that the situation in Northern Ireland potentially amounts to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Amnesty International polls have shown that nearly ¾ of Northern Irish public want to liberalise the abortion law. Belfast Council have also recently passed a motion in favour of decriminalising abortion in the country. But this call for change from within Northern Ireland is still not being listened to.
Stormont has the power to change Northern Irish law when it sits, however, it has not been in session since January 2017. Human rights are not a devolved issue, and so Westminster has a duty to Northern Irish women to act now.
This degrading treatment of women in need of abortion care is too pressing for Westminster to ignore any longer. It’s time for all of us in the Britain to stand up in solidarity with all Northern Irish women, and to demand change.
Notes to Editors
Media contact for comment and interviews: Kerry Abel, National Chair, Abortion Rights (07979 535242)
- Join Abortion Rights ‘Now For NI’ demonstration June 5th, 5:30 PM, Parliament Square.
- All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Population, Development and Reproductive Health recommended that coalitions must be built to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland recommendation number 3, Who Decides? We Trust Women: Abortion in the developing world and the UK, March 2018: http://www.appg-popdevrh.org.uk/APPG%202018%20AW.PDF
- In February 2018, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), published a report that states the UK is complicit in violating women’s human rights: UK violates women’s rights in Northern Ireland by unduly restricting access to abortion – UN experts http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22693&LangID=E
- A 2016 Amnesty International poll shows that nearly ¾ of Northern Irish public want to liberalise the abortion law: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/northern-ireland-nearly-34-public-support-abortion-law-change-new-poll-0
- In April 2018, Belfast Council passed a motion in favour of decriminalising abortion: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/belfast-council-passes-motion-on-abortion-decriminalisation-36792679.html