The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) welcomes today’s clarification by the Northern Ireland Attorney General that medical staff in Northern Ireland who refer women to hospitals in the rest of the UK for abortions will not face prosecution. However, Northern Ireland’s abortion laws still reduce Northern Ireland women to second class status in the UK. ARC welcomes Northern Ireland groups to the March for Choice on 30 September.
Reacting to the confirmation by Northern Ireland Attorney General Barra McGrory, made in correspondence with Amnesty International, ARC spokesperson Clare Lanigan said “Today’s announcement is an improvement of the situation for the hundreds of women and pregnant people forced to travel from Northern Ireland every year to access healthcare. The previous lack of clarity had a chilling effect on doctor’s ability to help their patients.”
Ms Lanigan continued, “Combined with June’s announcement by Westminster that Northern Ireland women are entitled to free abortions on the NHS, today’s news marks a significant improvement for people in Northern Ireland who need abortions, and their doctors. However, the restrictive abortion laws in Northern Ireland itself, forcing women to travel or import safe but illegal pills, are still unacceptable.”
The Abortion Rights Campaign are hosting the 6th Annual March for Choice in Dublin on 30th September, and will be welcoming participants from Northern Ireland activist group Alliance for Choice, as well as other pro-choice activists from the North.
“We are an all-island campaign – as well as working in the Republic to repeal the Eighth, we support our friends in Northern Ireland to change the archaic laws there and ensure people in the North have the same access to abortion as those in other part of the UK,” Ms Lanigan commented.
ARC will also be attending the Northern Ireland Rally for Choice, taking place in Belfast on 14 October. Rally for Choice call for a mass mobilisation of northern solidarity to take place at the March for Choice and for similar support to take place in Belfast
Ms Lanigan concluded, “The specifics of injustice are different in the Republic and the North, but the end result is the same – women are criminalised, stigmatised and forced into secrecy, simply for accessing necessary healthcare”