Unless significant progress towards the full provision of abortion services across Northern Ireland is made in the coming months, the Secretary of State must mandate the Department of Health here to implement them without further delay.
Despite legislation being passed, at Westminster, last year introducing free, safe and legal abortion services for women in Northern Ireland, those services have failed to materialise for the most part.
There should be no obstacles placed in the way of full-service provision and no ground surrendered to the socially conservative lobby which is attempting to turn back the clock to the dark ages.
For anti-choice groupings and others to talk about Westminster ‘grabbing power’ while conveniently disregarding the power grabbed from women in the control of their own bodies, would be laughable if it were not so serious.
Similarly for local politicians to claim Northern Ireland is being treated with contempt while attempting to deny women autonomy over their own bodies is the height of hypocrisy.
Women have the right to control their own bodies, including their fertility, and to pursue all reproductive choices.
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.