Abortion Rights Blog

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STUC Women’s Conference Emergency motion agreed on Northern Ireland abortion access

Abortion Access in Northern Ireland

Following on from reports to the Women’s Trades Union Council of the Isles meeting in Dublin 7/8 November, Conference is very concerned about the absence of fully accessible and legal abortion services in Northern Ireland. Cases publicized early in October 2013 in the media in Northern Ireland have highlighted the unacceptable reality for many women.

Conference notes that over 1,000 women a year travel from Northern Ireland to other parts of the UK.


Conference also notes that women then have to pay for this service, free to women in all other parts of the UK under the provisions of the 1967 Abortion Act.


Further, Conference notes that the UN examining Committee on CEDAW (UN Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women’ in its 2013 Report on UK progress, called on the UK as the ‘State Party’ within the United Nations,  should move immediately to decriminalize abortion in Northern Ireland and significantly extend the terms under which abortion would be legal.


Conference therefore asks the STUC Women’s Committee to work with the STUC General Council and affiliates:


  • to lobby the UK Government to comply with the UN CEDAW Committee’s recommendation
  • to write to all Scottish MPs on this matter
  • to write to the Secretary of State for Health in the UK Government urging the removal of charges for those women who travel from Northern Ireland to access services in other parts of the UK to liaise with the NICTU Women’s Committee on this issue.
  • to send a message of support to the Marie Stopes clinic now attempting to deliver a service in Belfast



Mover STUC Women’s Committee


(NOTE – this is the CEDAW UN Committee’s recommendation)


Recalling its previous recommendation, the Committee reiterates that, in line with general recommendation No. 24 on women and health and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the State party should expedite the amendment of the anti-abortion law in Northern Ireland with a view to decriminalise abortion. The State party should also ensure that legal abortion not only covers cases of threats to the life of a pregnant woman but also other circumstances such as threats to her health and in cases of rape, incest and serious malformation of the foetus.


Ann Henderson