Abortion rights need defended

Free, safe, legal …and in need of defence

Stormont’s vote on abortion services had no power to change current legislation but it signaled the strength and depth of social conservatism here and the need to defend and develop existing abortion legislation.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the Party’s Northern Ireland Business Committee which re-affirmed the Party’s position that women have the right to control their own bodies, including their fertility, and to pursue all reproductive choices

For DUP members and others to criticise legislation passed at Westminster saying it “treated Northern Ireland with contempt” while attempting to deny women autonomy over their own bodies is the height of hypocrisy.

Any barrier to reproductive rights for women is also a barrier to full social, economic and political life including workplace equality. It is a woman’s human right to have autonomy over her own body.

Those rights need to be defended, secured and enshrined in Assembly proof  legislation for as long as local conservative forces find common cause against the rights of women.

Abortion Services: Free, safe and legal – at last

Free, safe and legal…. at last!

At last! Women in Northern Ireland finally have access to free, safe and legal abortion services.

The Department of Health has now confirmed that it has received legal advice that abortions can be carried out at health and social care premises.

The current arrangements still have a way to go to meet the full needs of women but, after years of struggle, protest, legal actions and personal trauma pain and suffering, this is a hugely significant moment for abortion services in Northern Ireland.

Regrets

The regrets remain that it took legislation tabled by Labour MP Stella Creasy at Westminster to bring about these changes, rather than legislation at Stormont. Moves to rewrite the current legislation continue to pose a risk to women’s health here.

Also welcome, but again from Westminster, was the lifting of restrictions on accessing and taking abortion pills up to ten weeks.

Applaud

The initiative of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) should also be applauded.  From 9th April, women in Northern Ireland will be able to call a dedicated number to arrange tele-consultations with a doctor in Northern Ireland. 

The charity has undertaken to provide, by post, and in consultation with a GP, abortion medication for women who cannot travel to a hospital or health facility during the Covid 19 crisis. This service will be free of charge to women in Northern Ireland. BPAS will meet the costs of treating women as part of its charitable remit.

Anyone in Northern Ireland who needs services provided by BPAS can call 0300 500 8086 to arrange a teleconsultation with a doctor in Northern Ireland.