22/11/2016

Petition To Change NI Abortion Laws Given To Assembly

A petition to change the abortion laws in Northern Ireland has been given to the Assembly.

Green Party Deputy Leader, Clare Bailey MLA, and Amnesty International handed the petition, signed by 45,000 people, to the Speaker.

Clare Bailey said: "Northern Ireland's abortion laws are in breach of minimum human rights standards; they have been found to be so by the courts. Everyone is well aware of this, and therefore it is a shameful indictment on the Assembly that I even have to bring this petition forward.

"People who stand in the way of change on this issue are out of line with public opinion, and they are out of line with human rights. That is the message that I will be giving to them in the Assembly today.
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"The fact that, in response to a Scottish Green Party question, we now have the First Minister of Scotland saying that she will look into allowing Northern Irish women to access abortions free of charge in Scotland further shows how ridiculous the law is here."

Last week, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would explore the possibility for women in Northern Ireland to travel to Scotland to have an abortion free of charge.

During First Minister's Questions at Holyrood, Green co-convener Patrick Harvie said: "Many women in Northern Ireland find themselves left with no option but to travel elsewhere in the UK to access legal and safe abortion.

"The time and the stress that this costs them is bad enough but there are also significant financial barriers, with some organisations supporting these women estimating that at the low end it costs them at least £400 and in many other cases more than £2,000.

"Does the First Minister agree that the NHS in Scotland should be exploring what can be done to ensure that these women are able to access abortion in Scotland, if that's where they chose to travel to, without facing these kind of unacceptable financial barriers?"

(CD/MH)

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