Westminster told to 'legislate as a matter of urgency'
Westminster told that devolution is no excuse for inaction on Northern Ireland’s Abortion Law.
For immediate release
THURSDAY 25TH APRIL
The Women and Equalities Committee has today called for concrete action by Westminster in response to Northern Ireland's cruel abortion law.
The cross party committee has called on the Government to "legislate as a matter of urgency" and has stated that "devolution does not remove the UK Government’s own responsibilities to comply with its international obligations”.
The Committee cited the findings of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Inquiry into Abortion in Northern Ireland and stated that there are ‘grave and systematic’ violations in the criminalisation of abortion and highly restrictive access in Northern Ireland. The Committee today reaffirmed that devolution is no excuse: “internal laws cannot be used to justify a failure to comply with human rights standards.”
Following the evidence of women and healthcare professionals, the report also recognises the climate of fear which results from the effective ban on abortion in Northern Ireland, with it's Chair, Maria Miller MP stating "The lack of clarity about the current legal situation is creating confusion, fear and inequality. Our report sets out action which the Government must take to address this.”
The London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign welcomes the findings on the report. Katherine Nesbitt said: “This report tells us what we already know - banning abortion doesn't work, it harms women and pregnant people, and it prevents medical professionals from doing their job. 28 women are forced to travel from Northern Ireland to England for abortion every week. Women are suffering and Westminster cannot ignore its human rights obligations any longer. Stormont has not sat for over two years - the time to act is now."
The full report is available from the Women and Equalities Select Committee here.
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