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Abortion Law NI: inquiry still open

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Alliance4Choice, form, Select Committee, inquiry, abortion law in Northern Ireland, dAs many individuals as possible need to submit to this inquiry before 9 December.

The UK Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee’s inquiry looking into abortion law in Northern Ireland is seeking evidence on the following questions:

What are the views of the general public, women and medical and legal professionals in Northern Ireland about the law on abortion and whether it should be reformed? How have those views changed over time?

What are the experiences of women in Northern Ireland who have been affected by the law on abortion? and

What are the responsibilities of the UK Government under its international obligations for taking action to reform abortion law in Northern Ireland? How should these be reconciled to the UK’s devolution settlement?

The Committee welcomes all views, and aims to consult widely, both online and face-to-face, in Northern Ireland.

Current laws breach the rights of Northern Irish women. This is not a question of health or home affairs law but of human rights – which are reserved to Westminster.

Northern Irish women are unable to access abortion within their own borders and those that do face life imprisonment.

The law that criminalises Northern Irish women was passed by the UK Parliament in 1861 – it is out of date and older than the invention of the lightbulb.

Northern Ireland does not need a referendum like Ireland – this is not a constitutional issue but a simple repeal of legislation.

What would the question even be?

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women told the UK government in February 2018 that abortion law in Northern Ireland breached UK citizens’ human rights and called for the decriminalisation of abortion by repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act.

This is not about Direct Rule: This is not an English campaign – the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, an inter-departmental group of the Northern Irish government, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Amnesty International Northern Ireland, the NIFPA and Alliance for Choice, are among many others support reform.

And Stormont has not been adequately representing its people: according to a 2017 Trade Union survey “Abortion as a workplace issue” 84 per cent of people in Northern Ireland do not think women should be prosecuted for having an abortion and only 9 per cent think they should, and 73 per cent of DUP voters support abortion in some circumstances – so DUP MPs do not speak for the Northern Irish public. In addition 72 per cent disagreed that the law in NI should remain as it is and only 20 per cent agreed with the status quo.

Written submissions to the inquiry can be sent to the inquiry through the Select Committee’s online portal. Information about making a submission is available here.

As many individuals as possible need to submit to this inquiry before 9 December – it closes on 10 December but it is a good idea to make sure it’s in early.

It is important that as many people as possible tell the Westminster government how their lives have been impacted by the almost total abortion ban in Northern Ireland.

To ensure that even those who want to remain anonymous can submit what they want to say Alliance for Choice has created a form for individuals to fill in, with prompts to help you answer the main questions in the inquiry.

If you have your own personal experience of travelling for abortion or accessing pills, or anything else you think is valuable and want to say so but you want to remain anonymous, please fill in their form.

Alliance for Choice will submit your story as part of a collection people’s experiences.

If you want some more information before you submit you can visit Alliance for Choice’s guide to the inquiry here.

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