Green Party NI supports Amnesty call for abortion law reform

Deputy Leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland Clare Bailey has supported Amnesty International’s demands for reform of Northern Ireland’s draconian laws governing access to abortion.

Speaking at the launch of an Amnesty report on the topic in Belfast today, Ms Bailey said: “The laws on abortion in Northern Ireland need urgent reform as they are in significant breach of the UK’s international human rights obligations.

“For far too long, local politicians have shied away from this issue leaving women and the medical profession in a state of fear and confusion. Abortion must be decriminalised as Northern Ireland has the harshest criminal penalty for abortion anywhere in Europe – life imprisonment both for the woman undergoing an unlawful abortion and for anyone assisting her. That sentence even applies in cases where the pregnancy is as a result of rape or incest, or in cases of fatal foetal impairment.

“Whether certain politicians want to accept it or not, women in Northern Ireland are being discriminated against and hundreds are forced to leave Northern Ireland every year just to access health care to which they should be entitled. We are simply exporting the issue of abortion to be out of sight and therefore out of mind. That is not a mature, fair or even legal way to treat the women of Northern Ireland. Women of all ages, often in very difficult circumstances, are forced to travel to another part of the UK at their own expense and often without the presence of family or friends to access a health service to which they are entitled.

“I believe the Department of Justice consultation does not go far enough in this matter and shows how out of touch so many of the local parties are when it comes to women’s rights. Local politicians and the parties they represent are failing the women who they will soon be seeking support and votes off and that is simply not good enough.

“Where women do have a choice currently in Northern Ireland is who they vote for and I would urge them to read this shocking Amnesty report and not give their support to political parties which treat them as second class citizens and not only fail to protect their rights, but actively campaign to suppress them.”

26 February 2015

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