Amnesty calls on next UK government to commit to abortion reform in Northern Ireland

"The UK Government has a responsibility to deliver abortion rights for women in Northern Ireland. A failure to do so would be a cruel betrayal of women." – Grainne Teggart

The call comes ahead of a meeting today (13th June) between Prime Minister Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster.

Amnesty International has today issued a warning that the negotiations to establish the next UK Government must not trade away long overdue abortion law reform in Northern Ireland. The call comes ahead of a meeting today (13th June) between Prime Minister Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster to continue negotiations that would allow the Conservative Party to form a minority Government.

The DUP has previously blocked attempts to reform the region’s abortion laws, which date back to 1861 and have been found to breach women’s rights. In recent years, the DUP has also sought to reinforce the criminalisation of women who seek abortions in Northern Ireland through proposed amendments to a Justice Bill.

Grainne Teggart, Campaigns Manager for Amnesty International said:

"The UK Government has a responsibility to deliver abortion rights for women in Northern Ireland. A failure to do so would be a cruel betrayal of women. While health and justice are devolved matters, the UK Government is responsible for upholding human rights.

"We are today calling on the next UK Government to commit, particularly in the absence of functioning devolution, to prioritise bringing Northern Ireland’s abortion laws in line with international human rights standards. This must include the decriminalisation of abortion".

The warning also comes as talks to re-establish the devolved institutions at Stormont continue. The talks have a deadline of June 29 to restore devolution or reinstate direct rule.

ENDS

Notes to editors

In a pair of related judgments on 30 November 2015 and 16 December 2015, the High Court in Belfast ruled that the existing abortion law in Northern Ireland was incompatible with the ECHR Article 8 (right to private and family life) insofar as it prevents access to termination of pregnancy in cases of fatal foetal abnormality ("FFA") and rape or incest ("sexual crime").

International Human Rights committees have repeatedly found Northern Ireland’s abortion laws to be in breach of human rights standards and have called upon the UK Government to remedy this.

Amnesty International is the world’s largest human rights organisation with more than seven million supporters worldwide.

Amnesty International UK media information:

Naomi Westland: 020 7033 6414, naomi.westland@amnesty.org.uk

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