Alliance for Choice Press Release
If no Executive is formed by midnight on 21st October in Northern Ireland, Alliance for Choice will welcome the Repeal of sections 58 & 59 of the Offences Against the Persons Act, which has until now barred thousands upon thousands of women and pregnant people from access to abortion healthcare at home and with dignity.
“Even before new provisions and regulations are in place in March 2020, we have now removed the most dangerous barrier for those needing to access abortion pills online and medics wanting to give information and aftercare, the threat of prosecution.”
- Emma Campbell, Co-Convenor of AfC in Belfast this morning.
“In 2014 when I needed an abortion and was denied one I swore I would add my voice to the campaign for abortion rights and to have achieved that is just incredible. This will never undo my experience but has given a purpose to my pain and I am relieved that no one will now have to go through what I did.”
- Ashleigh Topley from Portadown, who faced the refusal of abortion treatment, subsequent court cases right up to the Supreme Court and who now organises the In Her Shoes NI pages online.
“For too long, women and girls in Northern Ireland have been left behind their counterparts in the rest of the UK when it comes to their human rights. Today, women can know that their houses will not be raided for abortion pills, they will not be reported to the police if they seek aftercare at the doctors, and they will not be dragged through the courts and threatened with prison just for accessing basic healthcare. Removing the threat of prosecution is just the first step in achieving free, safe, legal and local abortion in Northern Ireland. The fight must now continue to ensure that the regulations due to come into force on 31st March are in place so that no woman as to travel to get the healthcare she needs"
- Stella Creasy, MP who most recently tabled the Executive Formation Bill Amendment that promises to deliver abortion rights to Northern Ireland on 22nd October.
“Today the women of Northern Ireland are finally free. Free to choose if, when and how many children they want to have. No more will the state reduce women’s value to their breeding potential. We are equal citizens. We will be shamed no more.”
- Dawn Purvis, long-standing campaigner on abortion & LGBT+ rights in NI and ex-director of Marie Stopes Belfast
“Today we have made the first step towards a more compassionate Northern Ireland for the international students, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who come here for a chance at a better life. These are some of the most marginalised people, who are denied their right to reproductive healthcare, subjected to state-sanctioned violence on their bodies. We said ‘Never Again’ when Savita Halappanavar died at the hands of a healthcare system that was failing migrants and people of colour across Ireland, and we will make that promise a reality starting now. Today is a defining moment towards a fairer, inclusive, intersectional, reproductive justice system at its core. ”
- Hamsavani Rajeswaren, who as Equality and Diversity Officer in Queen’s Students’ Union, has seen the distress that lack of access to abortion can cause to migrants and women of colour living in Northern Ireland.
“Free, safe, and legal abortion access on the island of Ireland has been a goal of the abortion rights campaign since our founding in 2012. Today we move one step closer to making that a reality. We are proud to stand with our siblings in Northern Ireland who deserve access to the same rights as everyone else on this island. We now urge Stormont not to block this human rights legislation to ensure everyone has access to free, safe, legal and local abortion care in March 2020.”
- Claire Brophy & Emma Allen from Abortion Rights Campaign in Ireland who continue to struggle for the people left behind by the gaps in the Irish Legislation.
‘Decriminalisation is the first step in the process of ensuring free, safe & legal healthcare in their own communities; free from the trauma, stigma and expense of travel. Today and always we think of the four women and pregnant people a day who have been forced to travel. Alliance for Choice Derry have campaigned for decades; this is a victory for the women of the north & we stand with them. We look forward to the roll-out of information, provision and after-care for all who require it.'
- Dr Maeve O'Brien from Alliance for Choice Derry, a city that finally begin to call its women and pregnant people free.
“Doctors for Choice UK supports the decriminalisation of abortion across the UK as a vital step in ensuring women and pregnant people have access to the highest quality of sexual and reproductive healthcare services. Abortion is healthcare and it is a huge success in Northern Ireland that healthcare staff will now be able to support women and pregnant people in making the best decision for themselves without risk of prosecution.”
- Jill McManus, medical student and NI Representative from Doctors for Choice UK who represent the constantly expanding cohort of pro-choice healthcare providers.
“Over many years thousands of people from Northern Ireland have either taken a lonely journey to access abortion or risked prosecution by using abortion pills. No one should have to live in fear of abortion stigma or in even greater fear of the law. Today we are finally able to say that our country no longer treats us as criminals."
- Kellie Turtle activist with Alliance for Choice and abortion seeker.
“Women Help Women (WHW) supports the decriminalisation of abortion in every country and of the practice of self-managing abortion with pills at home. WHW will continue to facilitate access to abortion pills to people in Northern Ireland who request our service as well as provide information to all. We call for the state to meet its human right obligation to provide abortion as part of their health care services. Abortion must be accessible and safe.”
- Kinga Jelinska, Executive Director, Women Help Women
“For ten years, Abortion Support Network has been here for anyone pregnant in Northern Ireland and needing to travel to access a safe, legal abortion that they should have been able to get at home. We are obviously thrilled that, finally, abortion is being decriminalised in Northern Ireland. But we know change does not happen overnight, and until free, safe, legal and local abortion care provision is available in Northern Ireland, we’ll be here for anyone who needs us, and we hope that decriminalisation in NI paves the way for decriminalisation around the rest of the UK.”
- Ruth Taylor, CEO, Abortion Support Network
“Our doctors and nurses have witnessed first-hand the suffering and stigma this archaic law has caused, forcing thousands of women and girls to make long, difficult journeys to access abortion care in our clinics in England. We know that restricting abortion does not prevent it happening, it just exports it somewhere else. Women in Northern Ireland have been treated as second-class citizens for too long, but tomorrow marks the first step towards a brighter future. So, while there is still a long way to go until a new legal framework is in place and abortion is fully accessible, today we join the pro-choice majority across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland for a well-deserved celebration”
- Marie Stopes UK’s Clinical Director Caroline Gazet
Beyond the organisations represented above, the following welcome the introduction of both Equal Marriage legislation and the removal of criminal penalties for abortion to Northern Ireland.
Alliance for Choice Belfast & Derry - Abortion Rights Campaign - Array Studios - Belfast Feminist Network - Cara Friend - Doctors for Choice UK - Here NI - In Her Shoes NI - Irish Congress of Trade Unions Northern Irish Committee - London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign - Love Equality - NUS-USI - NUS Women - Outburst Queer Arts Festival - Project Choice - Queen’s Students Union - Reclaim the Agenda - Rally for Choice - Reclaim the Night - The 343 - Transgender NI - The Rainbow Project - Trust Us NUS-USI - UNISON - WANDA: Feminism and Moving Image - Women’s Resource and Development Agency