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Abortion rights: now for Northern Ireland

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abortion rights, Northern Ireland, #NowForNI,Campaign needs you to do two things…

Following the referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment in the Republic of Ireland, women in Northern Ireland will soon be the only women in the UK and Ireland who cannot access abortion.

In Northern Ireland, abortion is still prohibited, even in cases of rape, incest, and fatal foetal abnormality. The punishment is life in prison.

Last week, the Supreme Court found that current abortion laws in Northern Ireland breach women’s rights as laid out in the Human Rights Act – rights which the UK and Westminster are legally bound to uphold.

The Alliance for Choice, Amnesty International (AI), the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas), the Family Planning Association (fpa), and the London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign are now calling on Westminster to repeal sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861. This will decriminalise abortion across the UK, including Northern Ireland.

And in a cross-party letter calling upon other MPs to recognise the urgency and importance of reforming our outdated abortion laws to put the safety and dignity of all UK women first, MPs Stella Creasy, Sarah Wollaston, Jo Swinson, Diana Johnson, Liz Saville Roberts and Caroline Lucas point out that ‘the situation in Northern Ireland is rooted in legislation covering access to abortion which affects the whole of the UK and is now over 150 years old.

‘Access to reproductive care is a human right for all women that enables them to make choices about their own bodies – including not to be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy.

‘The Offences against the Person Act was written in 1861 and makes it a crime for any woman to cause her own abortion; the 1967 Act offers exemptions to women in England and Wales.

‘Abortion is the most common procedure that women of reproductive age undergo – in 2018 we recognise it is time that we act on behalf of all UK citizens to ensure they are able to their rights are protected and that our abortion legislation is fit for purpose.

‘Repealing sections 58 and 59 of this law for all of the UK would not impose any specific abortion law on Northern Ireland or any other part of the UK. Its absence would, however, enable civil servants and indeed the Assembly if reconstituted, to set out a framework for a modern healthcare system covering conditions of access.

‘Far from overriding devolution, removing this archaic legislation from the statute creates the direct opportunity for each nation to update its abortion laws for the 21st century and so respects the devolutionary process.’

The campaign now needs you to do two things:

#1 Email the Home Secretary now

To do this, follow this link, enter your post code, and tell both your own MP and the Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid, that you want a date set for the Domestic Abuse Bill and allow MPs to vote on the repeal of sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

#2 Share it

Please share this post on social media, and ask your family, friends and colleagues to do the same. We need as many people to email the Home Secretary and share this post as possible – and THIS WEEK.

Please use your voice – don’t let women in Northern Ireland get left behind.

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