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


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 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.


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


Nicky Morgan MP

Jess Phillips MP

Ken Clarke MP

Lucy Powell MP

Peter Bottomley MP

Justine Greening MP

Baroness Glenys Thompson

Anna Soubry MP

Christine Jardine MP

Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith of Sunninghill

Gloria del Piero MP

Lord David Steel of Aikwood

Sarah Champion MP

Grant Shapps MP

Lord George Foulkes of Cumnock

Harriet Harman MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Baroness Alison Suttie of Hawick

Mhairi Black MP

Antoinette Sandbach MP

Jo Stevens MP

Yasmin Qureshi MP

Baroness Doreen Massey of Darwen

Gareth Snell MP

Liz Kendall MP

Priti Patel MP

Karin Smyth MP

Baroness May Blood of Blackwatertown

Gill Furniss MP

Anneliese Dodds MP

Baroness Brenda Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde

Mike Gapes MP

Kate Green MP

Madeleine Moon MP

Lord Peter Goldsmith of Allerton

Baroness Hilary Armstrong of Hill Top

Gareth Thomas MP

Rosie Duffield MP

Liz Saville Roberts MP

Sarah Jones MP

Lord David Clark

Lord Stewart Wood

Luciana Berger MP

Ruth Smeeth MP

Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen

Tracy Brabin MP

Anna Turley MP

Baroness Jean Corston of St George

Baroness Ann Taylor of Bolton

Clive Efford MP

James Frith MP

Angela Eagle MP

Chris Bryant MP

Melanie Onn MP

Dawn Butler MP

Tonia Antoniazzi MP

Rupa Huq MP

Darren Jones MP

Lord Michael Cashman of Limehouse

Lord Alf Dubs of Battersea

Helen Goodman MP

Jeff Smith MP

Gareth Thomas MP

Luke Pollard MP

Baroness Lorley Burt of Solihull

Barry Sheerman MP

Tulip Siddiq MP

Baroness Jane Bonham Carter of Yarnbury

Diana Johnson MP

Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece of Highbury

Thelma Walker MP

Lord Jeff Rooker of Perry Barr

Stephen Kinnock MP

Baroness Lynn Featherstone of Highgate

Cat Smith MP

Carolyn Harris MP

Justin Madders MP

Tom Brake MP

Jo Swinson MP

Lord Nic Rea

Jamie Stone MP

Stephen Lloyd MP

Baroness Janet Cohen of Pimlico

Anna Mcmorrin MP

Ruth George MP

Bambos Charalambos MP

Mary Creagh MP

Heidi Alexander MP

Baroness Jan Royale of Blaisdon

Lisa Nandy MP

Julie Elliott MP

Ruth Cadbury MP

Naz Shah MP

Yvette Cooper MP

Helen Hayes MP

Karen Buck MP

Stephen Doughty MP

Daniel Zeichner MP

Lord Roy Kennedy of Southwark

Norman Lamb MP

Paula Sherrif MP

Matt Rodda MP

Jo Platt MP

Shabana Mahmood MP

Emma Reynolds MP

David Lammy MP

Seema Malhotra MP

Chris Evans MP

Nic Dakin MP

Nick Smith MP

Jenny Chapman MP

Alistair Carmichael MP

Martin Whitfield MP

Yvonne Fovargue MP

Rachel Reeves MP

Lord Julian Hunt of Chesterton

Ian Murray MP

Sharon Hodgson MP

Lillian Greenwood MP

Gerald Jones MP

Holly Lynch MP

Alison McGovern MP

Thamgam Debbonaire MP

John Woodcock MP

Danielle Rowley MP

Angela Smith MP

Emma Hardy MP

Catherine West MP

Wes Streeting MP

Rushanara Ali MP

Chris Matheson MP

Geraint Davies MP

Peter Kyle MP

Kevin Brennan MP

Toby Perkins MP

Paul Williams MP

Liz McInnes MP

Baroness Glenys Kinnock of Holyhead

Baroness Shaista Sheehan

John Mann MP

Baroness Hilton

Harriet Harman MP

Baroness Northover

Baroness Barker

Caroline Flint MP

Hannah Little