Northern Ireland: Amnesty tentative welcome for moves to change law on abortion and marriage equality

Responding to news that a number of political parties have tabled Bills at the Northern Ireland Assembly to introduce marriage equality and to reform the law on abortion, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

“We warmly welcome the moves from a range of parties at the Northern Ireland Assembly to introduce marriage equality legislation and to reform the law on abortion.

“It was clear during the recent election campaign that voters want our laws brought into line with international human rights standards with respect to civil marriage equality and abortion.

“On equal marriage, it is hugely positive that a range of parties – on day one of the new Assembly term – have shown themselves committed to translating the overwhelming will of the people into law.

“On access to abortion, we welcome proposals to change the law to allow access to abortions for women and girls in Northern Ireland in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and sexual crime. Such changes are long overdue.

“But, as the recent ‘abortion pills’ cases have demonstrated, we also need to see an end to the criminalisation of women and girls for seeking to access healthcare which is available free on the NHS in every other part of the UK.

“How many more women are we to see hauled into the dock before these archaic laws are consigned to the history books where they belong?

“Reproductive healthcare must be taken out of the realm of criminal justice and addressed as an issue of public health and human rights.

“We look forward to seeing the text of proposed legislative changes and will work with all Assembly members to bring our laws into compliance with international law.”

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