As organisations who have supported the push for abortion access in Northern Ireland we are encouraged by the possibility of movement in Westminster. Another Executive Functions Bill points to the failures of the devolved Northern Irish Assembly and the continued refusal of the UK government to act decisively in the interest of NI citizens.
As well as a number of ongoing Judicial Reviews, and the statement by the Supreme Court Judges in 2018, the UN has repeatedly called on the UK government to provide equal access to abortion services across all the regions without criminalisation. Devolution is not a barrier when human rights are at stake and where the health and private lives of women, pregnant people and their families are jeopardised by the unjust ramifications of the 1861 Offences Against the Persons Act. It’s time that Parliament acted to use its powers to remove this draconian legislation and prove that they regard people who need abortion in NI as equal to those in England.
The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey has consistently shown that the people of Northern Ireland want Westminster to legislate to reform the abortion law, and over 80% of NI people surveyed for the Trade Union report, Abortion as a Workplace Issue study said they did not want women criminalised. There is a clear ministerial and Parliamentary majority for supporting these changes for Northern Ireland we simply need the opportunity for MPs to act.
Each of our organisations working across this issue have been answering calls to people in distress for far too long. Not one more person should be arrested, not one more woman should be forced to secretly take abortion pills without knowing she has the support of medical staff if she needs aftercare and not one more girl should have to travel on a plane to access healthcare after being the victim of a sexual crime.
All of us would urge MPs across the house to listen to the people of Northern Ireland, to the tens of thousands who have voted with their feet and taken planes and boats to England for over 50 years. No matter what happens in Parliament this coming week, someone will be on a plane tonight and someone else tomorrow morning, alone, away from home and the friends and family that could be their support network.
More Info Courtesy of BPAS:
New Clauses 11 and 12 Amendment
NC11 and NC12 have been laid to Northern Ireland legislation before the House on 9th July 2019. They are substantive amendments that will not affect the passage of the bill.
NC11 requires the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the absence of NI ministers, to make an oral statement to the House of Commons on the progress towards implementing recommendations of the UN’s CEDAW Inquiry into Northern Ireland which found that the law should be amended in Northern Ireland to decriminalise abortion.
NC12 draws attention to UK government’s reasoning that it will not act to protect human rights in Northern Ireland in the absence of Northern Irish Ministers, despite their obligations under the Northern Ireland Act 1998, and ensures that nothing in this Act can be read so as to derogate from these obligations.
NC11 and 12 have been signed by more than 60 MPs.
They have been proposed by Stella Creasy. Supporters include George Freeman, Diana Johnson, Ed Vaizey, Jo Swinson, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry, and Caroline Lucas.
In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland today, any woman who ends her own pregnancy at any stage can be sent to prison for life under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 – a law created before women could even vote.
With the Supreme Court stating that the current situation regarding the lack of access to abortion for women in Northern Ireland to be a breach of human rights, Members of Parliament and campaigners have been calling for the UK Government to intervene to protect the rights of the people of Northern Ireland.
The Now for NI campaign
The Now for NI campaign is run by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. In conjunction with Amnesty Northern Ireland and Alliance for Choice, we are campaigning to repeal and reform this law, decriminalising abortion in Northern Ireland, England, and Wales.