To mark International Human Rights Day, the Abortion Rights Campaign has called for action from both the Irish and the UK government to introduce free, safe, legal abortion services across the island of Ireland.
Linda Kavanagh, the campaign’s spokesperson said:
“We call upon Westminster to take the necessary actions to provide free, safe, legal and local abortion access for women and pregnant people in the North. As several international monitoring bodies have made clear, reproductive rights should never be a devolved issue. The UK Government have an affirmative obligation to provide abortion access in Northern Ireland.”
The statement continued:
“We urge the UK Government to decriminalise abortion across the UK, in line with international norms and best practice. The 150-year old criminal laws are still being enforced in Northern Ireland. The Northern Irish government actively prosecutes people for accessing abortion medication outside of the law. These prosecutions are cruel, unjust and inhumane, and they need to stop.”
The organisation highlighted how, despite the victory in the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment, people are still forced to travel to the UK for terminations, and will do so until legislation is implemented:
‘As we mark this day, we acknowledge that people in the Republic too are waiting for their rights to be realised. Since the referendum in May, almost 2,000 people have travelled abroad to access abortion services which should be available at home. More than 500 have imported abortion pills despite the continued legal risks in doing so.
“We know that a large number of doctors are ready and willing to provide abortion care here in Ireland and urge the government to enact legislation to enable people to access their basic reproductive rights come January 1st. However, we must remember that those who do not meet the strict criteria for access to abortion after the first 12 weeks will still face violations of their human rights by being forced to travel to access care. Others will not be legally able to travel, and will suffer even greater harm to their health and human rights.”
Today, December 10, marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being.
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