London Irish call on Hackney Candidates to act on Abortion in Northern Ireland

A Stoke Newington Woman has written to Hackney North Candidates asking them to commit to act on Abortion rights in Northern Ireland.

Breda Corish of N16 copied the letter below to Hackney north Candidate Joe Richards.

We are writing to you regarding the Liberal Democrat’s manifesto for the upcoming General Election. The London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign advocates for reform of the archaic abortion laws in Northern Ireland and repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution. In essence: we are campaigning for free, safe and legal abortion across the island of Ireland. We are an active group of over 1,000 people living in Greater London, many of whom are eligible to vote in UK general elections. We host events, stage protests and run social media campaigns to raise awareness in the UK of the abortion laws on the whole island of Ireland. National media outlets such as the BBC, The Guardian, The Independent and The Huffington Post regularly cover stories on London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign events, highlighting the plight of Northern Irish women. In November 2015, the High Court in Belfast made a formal declaration that Northern Ireland’s abortion laws are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Stormont and Westminster have let these women1 down. Politicians in Northern Ireland have so far disregarded the ruling of the court, the first time that a declaration of incompatibility has been ignored by a UK legislature. Despite being UK taxpayers, women from Northern Ireland are unable to access NHS-funded abortions in England, Wales or Scotland, instead incurring costs of up to £1425 for a basic medical procedure. Current figures estimate that at least two Northern Irish women per day (over 800 women a year) travel to Britain for an abortion, whilst many others must resort to obtaining illegal abortion pills online. On 8th of March, International Women’s Day 2017, the Police Service of Northern Ireland carried out a series of raids on homes and offices in Belfast in search of abortion pills (Mifepristone and Misoprostol) 1 We use the term ‘women’ for the purposes of our campaign, while acknowledging that not all people who can become pregnant identify as women. and “other instruments of abortion”. Since then, a number of further raids have been carried out. These enforcement measures are virtually unknown in the rest of the UK. It is worth noting that these pills are listed on the World Health Organisation’s list of essential medicines for the developing world. Since 2015, there have been three cases of women prosecuted for procuring abortions under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment or “penal servitude”. This election is an opportunity to recognise the human rights of women within Northern Ireland; rights that their fellow UK citizens in Scotland, England and Wales have. Therefore, we are calling on your Party to: ● Call for the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland, an immediate halt to prosecutions relating to abortion pills and the granting of pardons to those already prosecuted; ● Put pressure on the Northern Ireland Executive, when it is formed, to legislate to ensure human rights compliance in respect of abortion laws; ● Advocate, as a strictly interim measure, that Northern Irish women be allowed free access to abortion services on the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Should you wish, we would be happy to speak with you about this in more detail. We look forward to seeing these essential measures added to your party manifesto.

Kind regards,

London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign

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