Assembly legislation on abortion law reform is long overdue

Green Party Deputy Leader Clare Bailey MLA has today, 18 October 2016, welcomed a new poll commissioned by Amnesty International Northern Ireland indicating that 72% of people in Northern Ireland support reform of abortion laws in cases of sexual crime.

Clare Bailey MLA said “Currently Northern Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Despite successive opinion polls showing that the majority of people want to see the law reformed, we have yet to see a majority of MLAs support this.

“During the last mandate, votes to allow abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality lost by 59 votes to 40 and for sexual crime including rape, by 64 votes to 32. This shows how clearly out of step our politicians are with the public mood. We need to keep pressurising Stormont to act on behalf of the people and to trust women.

“Northern Ireland’s near total ban on abortion is not fit for purpose. The reality is that women in Northern Ireland are having abortions. In 2015, 833 women travelled to England to access healthcare which is denied to them in Northern Ireland, and between 2010 and 2015, 5,605 women from the island of Ireland accessed abortion pills online.

“Whilst we await the publication of the Fatal Foetal Abnormality Working Group, it is patently obvious that if this group does recommend the most incremental of changes, it will not be enough to catch up with public opinion.

“Like the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland, I trust women. I will be working to ensure that women are not criminalised when accessing healthcare.  Assembly legislation on abortion law reform is long overdue.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Amnesty International Northern Ireland press release is here https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/northern-ireland-nearly-34-public-support-abortion-law-change-new-poll-0

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