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Abortion in Northern Ireland: an incredibly important vote is happening and this is how to support it

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Moya Lothian-McLean
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MP Stella Creasy is attempting to change abortion law in Northern Ireland - and this is how you can help.

Quick reminder: within the UK there is an area where abortion laws are stricter than the ones causing outrage in US states like Alabama. In Northern Ireland, any termination of a pregnancy is illegal, with any person found to have broken it risking life imprisonment. Extenuating circumstances are only granted in the case that a woman’s mental or physical health is deemed at risk but this is rarely exercised - in 2016/17, only 13 legal abortions were carried out in the entire country.

Labour MP Stella Creasy has long attempted to have this law changed and on Tuesday 9 July, will lead another effort to do just that. 

Two amendments have been tabled by Creasy; they require the government in Westminster to ensure Northern Ireland complies with United Nations human rights obligations relating to abortion, effectively kick-starting the decriminalisation process.

The proposed amendments – which have attracted the cross-party support of up to 60 MPs at the time of writing – cite the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, which has previously found that the UK is violating the human rights of women in Northern Ireland by restricting their ability to access abortion and forcing them to seek costly treatment abroad.

For those who want to lend their weight to the struggle to reform the law, there’s a very simple way: just click through to this link to find an email template that will automatically be sent to your MP and lobby them to support the amendment. 

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The Alabama abortion ban is disturbing. Northern Ireland’s is even worse

“All those concerned about human rights violations in Alabama need to look closer to home,” said Creasey, of the pressing need to take action now.

“According to the UN, women in Northern Ireland face ‘grave and systematic’ human rights violations because we treat them as second class citizens and deny them their basic human right not to be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy.

“It’s time this Government stopped hiding behind devolution to defend this situation and please the DUP. [And the] United Nations [are in agreement], saying they can’t use devolution as an excuse for this disgraceful situation. 

“With women facing jail now in Northern Ireland and no sign of an Assembly anytime soon at Stormont, this vote is a chance for Parliament to uphold our human rights obligations and treat every woman in the UK with equal respect by ensuring they can access a safe, legal and local abortion if they want to do so.”

To lobby your local MP to support the amendment on abortion law in Northern Ireland, click here.

Images: Getty

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Moya Lothian-McLean

Moya Lothian-McLean is a freelance writer with an excessive amount of opinions. She tweets @moya_lm.

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