Amnesty welcomes Sinn Féin policy change on abortion

Amnesty International has welcomed news that Sinn Féin will now support changes to the law to allow access to abortion services in cases of pregnancy with fatal foetal abnormalities. A vote today at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, taking place in Derry/Londonderry, backed a change in party policy to allow for terminations in such limited circumstances.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Campaigner, said:  

“This move today by Sinn Fein represents an important step forward for both women’s rights and the political process delivering much needed change on abortion.  Laws governing abortion here are over 150 years old, exclude women who are victims of sexual crime/violence and women whose pregnancies have lethal abnormalities.

“Women finding themselves in these most distressing of circumstances deserve access to this healthcare service without having to travel to England or further afield.  Our laws should empower women to make decisions in their own best interests and enable our medical profession to support them."

Last month Amnesty International published a report, ‘Northern Ireland: Barriers to accessing abortion services’, which catalogued the obstacles in law, policy and practice which prevents women from accessing abortion.  This included Northern Ireland having the harshest criminal penalty for unlawful abortion anywhere in Europe – life imprisonment both for the woman undergoing an unlawful abortion and for anyone assisting her and a‘postcode lottery’ for women trying to access lawful abortion advice and services across Northern Ireland.

Cathal Ó hOisín, Sinn Fein MLA for East Derry/Londonderry, spoke at the launch of this report about a personal experience of a pregnancy with fatal foetal abnormality.

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