The women of Northern Ireland found a clever loophole in the country’s strict abortion laws as they staged a powerful protest outside courts in Belfast.
It’s been one week since Ireland took to the polls to repeal the eighth amendment on the country’s strict abortion laws and won.
Now, the incredible feat has sparked protests, campaigns and social media chatter as women in Northern Ireland call for the same change to be made north of the border.
In a powerful pro-choice protest (sure to be one of many in the coming months) women dressed in The Handmaid’s Tale-style outfits (conveying a message of oppression) as they gathered together outside courts in Belfast on Thursday 31 May.
After arranging robots to distribute abortion pills (they had found a legal loophole which allowed them to do so), the women apparently then swallowed them in protest in front of police officers.
According to reports, police officers attempted to remove one woman but after a vocal stand-off they gave up.
One of the demonstrators, Eleanor Crossey Malone, said she took action “in defiance of the extremely outdated, medieval, anti-choice laws that exist in Northern Ireland”.
“We are not willing to accept it anymore,” Malone continued.
“Women every day in Northern Ireland are using these pills - as long as we don’t talk about it, as long as we act like it is a secret, politicians are not under pressure to legislate on this.”
The robots, which were operated by a doctor based in the Netherlands, were seized by PSNI after a Dutch doctor, who was protesting outside the courts, was forced to hand over the robots and the pills.
In recent days, MPs from all UK parties have called on Prime Minister Theresa May to put pressure on Northern Ireland to reform its abortion laws, as Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where abortion is still legal (aside from exceptional cases).
Many people have taken to Twitter, calling for immediate action by using the hashtag #NowForNI.
👏 We won #Repeal in the South, now let's make this a 32 county movement for change!— Gillian Brien PBP (@pbp_gillian) June 1, 2018
🚌 Join us @pb4p on the bus to Belfast Sun 10 June #nowforNI #trustpregnantpeople #trustallwomen
📱Text 'REPEAL BUS' to 087 2839964. Cost €10 Return. pic.twitter.com/u6Miauldq0
Ireland has voted overwhelming for change in the abortion laws!— Lynn Kyle (@Kyle_High) May 26, 2018
NOW WHAT ABOUT US?
NI's women still have no rights over their own bodies.
We still cannot marry the one we love.
We've been left behind, isolated!
We need change! #repealthe8th #EqualityForAll #hometovote #NowForNI
Together with @GWYEastForYes we are organising a bus to Belfast to march in the @All4Choice Processions on the 10th of June. We will have an eventbrite page for getting tickets soon, join us and your solidarity! Event: https://t.co/jDkCbi1hqI#abortionrightsnai#NowForNI pic.twitter.com/kU03oeZGTV— Galway Pro-Choice (@GalwayProChoice) June 1, 2018
However, the Supreme Court is set to rule on a challenge over the legality of the country’s strict abortion laws. At the end of last year, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) told the court that the current laws subject “exceptionally vulnerable” women to “inhuman and degrading” treatment. The court will announce its decision on Thursday 7 June.
You can find out more about the situation in Northern Ireland – as well as the politicians fighting to see change here.
Images: Getty / Twitter