Services denied, services unavailable and open public harassment of women seeking abortion advice and support: that is the current reality for women in Northern Ireland.
Despite the introduction of legislation by Westminster almost two years ago abortion services and support are still not fully available to women in Northern Ireland.
With the Assembly again failing to meet its obligations to women, the welcome news is that the Secretary of State is to direct the Department of Health to commission free, safe and legal access to services by March 2022.
The continuing failure of the Assembly to deliver on women’s healthcare rights has continued to cause further hurt and trauma.
Previously, The Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) described the situation in which thousands of women and girls are forced to travel outside Northern Ireland to procure a legal abortion as a ‘grave and systematic violation of their rights’.
Women have the right to control their own bodies, including their fertility, and to pursue all reproductive choices.
Abortion is a class issue and this requires the clear recognition of a woman’s right to choose and the provision of free and safe abortion in her own country. That must include practical facilities to support both women seeking an abortion and quality post-abortion care.
The organised and ongoing harassment of women seeking to avail of abortion healthcare facilities here continues to be of major concern.
We oppose these groups, their abusive activities and their vile attempts to stigmatise and demonise women who choose to have, or who have had, abortions. A woman’s right to choose is a human right and it must be protected and upheld.