Article originally for Equality Coalition
Alliance for Choice is aware of scaremongering being circulated by organisations unhappy with the likely changes in the law on Abortion in Northern Ireland on 22nd October. We believe that the best interests and wishes of the people of Northern Ireland are finally being granted. Despite the pushback of a vocal minority who would see us imprisoned for having abortions, we know the majority of the population of Northern Ireland support those who have had or will need an abortion.
Below we have set out the text of the most popular current misconceptions with some counterpoints.
FALSE - The recent amendment of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill in Westminster is to include the imposition of unregulated abortion to Northern Ireland.
TRUE - There are no plans for the deregulation of medical provision of abortion in Northern Ireland. The law removes criminal penalties for women and doctors not regulation of healthcare which will remain in place and is strictly upheld. For more information http://www.alliance4choice.com/repeal-58/59/medicalbrief
FALSE - The immediate implications of this Bill are that abortion on request will be legalised to the point of viability and potentially beyond to 28 weeks depending on legal interpretation.
TRUE - The upper limit will be 24 weeks which is necessary due to pregnancy anomaly scans happening between 20 and 22 weeks. The laws past 24 weeks will remain the same, which means people can access abortion if there is a risk to their life or long term health.
FALSE - No consultation took place on the amendments related to the Abortion clause at Westminster with the people of Northern Ireland. The process which led to this section being passed into law was deeply flawed and has significant detrimental consequences for devolution.
TRUE - There were 4 inquiries in Northern Ireland which specifically engaged with stakeholders, medical professionals, politicians and statutory bodies.
These were, in chronological order;
CEDAW Inquiry - The CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women - United Nations) report was the result of extensive community consultation in Northern Ireland. CEDAW representatives met with the Northern Ireland Minister for Communities, Minister of Justice, the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, officials from the Department of Health, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Equalities Commission, and the Commissioner for Children and Young People. They interviewed members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, civil society representatives, academics, trade unions, medics, health departments, and representatives of Westminster Government.
In its report, the Committee concludes that a restriction affecting only women from exercising reproductive choice, involves mental and physical suffering constituting violence against women. It also potentially amounts to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of several articles of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. They concluded that forcing a woman to continue with her pregnancy in such a situation amounted to unjustifiable State-sanctioned violence.
British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) Inquiry
This cross-jurisdictional inquiry heard from Government representatives, academic, medical and legal experts, and campaigners representing all points of view on issue.
Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry on Abortion in Northern Ireland - who said:
“We have visited Northern Ireland twice and heard from a large number of witnesses, professionals, stakeholders and individuals impacted by the law in three different locations, as well as in Westminster.”
All Party Parliamentary Inquiry on Population, Development and Reproductive Health (APPG) on abortion in Northern Ireland
FALSE - This course of action goes far beyond the public conversation which has been happening in Northern Ireland in recent years about amending the law to allow abortion in the cases of life limiting conditions deemed fatal before, during or shortly after birth
TRUE - The 2016 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey shows 70% believe that abortion should be a matter for medical regulation and not criminal law, across voting patterns and religious belief. https://www.ark.ac.uk/ARK/sites/default/files/2018-07/update115.pdf
A survey commissioned by Amnesty International found that 75% of adults in the UK want the government to change the abortion law in Northern Ireland and that 66% of Northern Irish adults think that, without their own government, Westminster should act to change the law.
The Abortion as a workplace issure research supported these figures.
61% agreed / strongly agreed with the statement that the current restrictions on abortion access were cruel and inhumane
85% stated a woman should not arrested and prosecuted for having an abortion
19% had direct experience of abortion as a workplace issue
We have 3 in-depth guides to the current situation concerning, legal, medical and consultation matters: