BREAKING NEWS: 135 MPs & Peers make vow to bring abortion equality to Northern Ireland for International Women's Day

STELLA CREASY MP: PRESS RELEASE

A cross party group of 135 MPs and Peers including two former Government Ministers for Women and Equality has today written to Amber Rudd on International Women’s Day to urge her to legislate for equal access to abortion for women in Northern Ireland.

This follows the recent UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) inquiry which said women and girls in Northern Ireland faced ‘systematic violations of rights through being compelled to either travel outside Northern Ireland to procure a legal abortion or to carry their pregnancy to term”.

Representing all political parties in parliament, the group has urged Minister for Women and Equalities to use the forthcoming Domestic Violence Bill which is intending to ratify the Istanbul Convention (The Council of Europe Convention on Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence) to provide for women in Northern Ireland to have equal access to abortion services to other UK citizens, following the agreement last year to allow Northern Irish women to travel to England and Wales for the procedure.

Stella Creasy, who led the campaign to secure funding for Northern Irish women to be able to travel to England for NHS abortions has coordinated this letter whose signatories include Ken Clarke, Anna Soubry, Justine Greening, Nicky Morgan, Antoinette Sandbach, Peter Bottomley, Grant Shapps and Priti Patel as well as Lord David Steel, Lord Alf Dubs, Harriet Harman, Dawn Butler, Jess Phillips, Lucy Powell and Caroline Lucas. Speaking about the UN report and the Government's decision not to oppose a free vote on extending same sex marriage rights to Northern Ireland Stella said:

'We have heard talk of the importance of regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK but the DUP's concerns don't seem to extend to the basic human right of not to be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy. This letter shows that across the House parliamentarians stand ready to support legislation to address this and the criticism of the UN that the current UK Government policy ' constitutes violence against women that may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment". 

These figures show that hundreds of women have made the journey to England in the last few months alone reflecting the disparity in access to abortion services - and they are the ones who can manage to travel. With the Government saying they will give a free vote on extending same sex marriage to Northern Ireland we should be clear that the fight for equality cannot be selective and that devolution cannot be used as an excuse not to act. 

Women and men have marched together this week to show their support for International Women's Day, but frankly its not enough to carry a placard or share a hashtag or say you care about women and then duck issues like a woman's right to choose. The UN ruling is clear that forcing women to travel to seek an abortion is not acceptable  - its time for all who say they support gender equality to put their votes and their voices where their marching is and back this call for progress”

 

Alongside this letter from parliamentarians, key service providers and campaigners working in Northern Ireland including the Alliance for Choice, BPAS,  Abortion Support Network, Marie Stopes International, NUPAS, NIWEP, London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign, Family Planning Association, Humanists UK and Amnesty International have also written to the Minister for Women and Equality to support the call for abortion to be made available to women in Northern Ireland directly. This letter states

“Enabling women from Northern Ireland to access free abortion services in England is an important step to help women forced to travel. However, it is no substitute for comprehensive reform of Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion law and on International Women’s Day we remind you that many women remain left behind.  This includes victims of domestic violence, refugees, women without confirmed immigration status who are unable to travel, those who are too young to travel alone and those with complex health needs.”

Figures from providers of abortion services show that between July 2017 and February 2018, 600 women traveled to England for a free termination following the agreement last year to fund Northern Irish women to access this procedure for free in English hospitals.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LETTER - IF YOU DO NOT SEE YOUR MP'S NAME ON THE LIST, EMAIL THEM TO ASK FOR THEIR SUPPORT.

MPs and Peers who are  calling on  Home Secrtary Amber Rudd on International Women’s Day to urge her to legislate for equal access to abortion for women in Northern Ireland

 

Alison McGovern MP

Alistair Carmichael MP

Angela Eagle MP

Angela Smith MP

Anna Mcmorrin MP

Anna Soubry MP

Anna Turley MP

Anneliese Dodds MP

Antoinette Sandbach MP

Bambos Charalambos MP

Barbara Keeley

Barry Sheerman MP

Caroline Flint MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Carolyn Harris MP

Cat Smith MP

Catherine West MP

Chris Bryant MP

Chris Evans MP

Chris Matheson MP

Christine Jardine MP

Clive Efford MP

Daniel Zeichner MP

Danielle Rowley MP

Darren Jones MP

David Lammy MP

Dawn Butler MP

Diana Johnson MP

Emma Hardy MP

Emma Reynolds MP

Gareth Snell MP

Gareth Thomas MP

Gareth Thomas MP

Geraint Davies MP

Gerald Jones MP

Gill Furniss MP

Gloria del Piero MP

Grant Shapps MP

Harriet Harman MP

Harriet Harman MP

Heidi Alexander MP

Helen Goodman MP

Helen Hayes MP

Holly Lynch MP

Ian Murray MP

James Frith MP

Jamie Stone MP

Jeff Smith MP

Jenny Chapman MP

Jess Phillips MP

Jo Platt MP

Jo Stevens MP

Jo Swinson MP

John Mann MP

John Woodcock MP

Julie Elliott MP

Justin Madders MP

Justine Greening MP

Karen Buck MP

Karin Smyth MP

Kate Green MP

Ken Clarke MP

Kevin Brennan MP

Layla Moran MP

Lillian Greenwood MP

Lisa Nandy MP

Liz Kendall MP

Liz McInnes MP

Liz Saville Roberts MP

Luciana Berger MP

Lucy Powell MP

Luke Pollard MP

Madeleine Moon MP

Martin Whitfield MP

Mary Creagh MP

Matt Rodda MP

Melanie Onn MP

Mhairi Black MP

Mike Gapes MP

Naz Shah MP

Nic Dakin MP

Nick Smith MP

Nicky Morgan MP

Norman Lamb MP

Paul Williams MP

Paula Sherrif MP

Peter Bottomley MP

Peter Kyle MP

Priti Patel MP

Rachel Reeves MP

Roger Godsiff

Rosie Duffield MP

Rupa Huq MP

Rushanara Ali MP

Ruth Cadbury MP

Ruth George MP

Ruth Smeeth MP

Sarah Champion MP

Sarah Jones MP

Seema Malhotra MP

Shabana Mahmood MP

Sharon Hodgson MP

Stephen Doughty MP

Stephen Kinnock MP

Stephen Lloyd MP

Thamgam Debbonaire MP

Thelma Walker MP

Toby Perkins MP

Tom Brake MP

Tommy Sheppard MP

Tonia Antoniazzi MP

Tracy Brabin MP

Tulip Siddiq MP

Wes Streeting MP

Yasmin Qureshi MP

Yvette Cooper MP

Yvonne Fovargue MP

Baroness Alison Suttie of Hawick

Baroness Ann Taylor of Bolton

Baroness Barker

Baroness Brenda Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde

Baroness Doreen Massey of Darwen

Baroness Elaine Murphy

Baroness Glenys Kinnock of Holyhead

Baroness Glenys Thornton

Baroness Hilary Armstrong of Hill Top

Baroness Hilton

Baroness Jan Royale of Blaisdon

Baroness Jane Bonham Carter of Yarnbury

Baroness Janet Cohen of Pimlico

Baroness Janet Whitaker

Baroness Jean Corston of St George

Baroness Lorley Burt of Solihull

Baroness Lynn Featherstone of Highgate

Baroness May Blood of Blackwatertown

Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece of Highbury

Baroness Northover

Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith of Sunninghill

Baroness Shaista Sheehan

Lord Alf Dubs of Battersea

Lord Bob Hughes

Lord David Clark

Lord David Steel of Aikwood

Lord George Foulkes of Cumnock

Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen

Lord Jeff Rooker of Perry Barr

Lord Julian Hunt of Chesterton

Lord Michael Cashman of Limehouse

Lord Nic Rea

Lord Peter Goldsmith of Allerton

Lord Roy Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Stewart Wood

Hannah Little