We won’t be left behind!

After a landslide vote of just under 67% to repeal the constitutional abortion ban on 25th May, on 18th September, the eighth amendment was formally repealed in the South, after all appeals made seeking to the challenge the referendum result were dismissed. Therefore, the 36th amendment has now been introduced into the constitution, worded as, “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.” Legislation is expected to be enacted by January 2019 at the latest, and will provide abortion up to 12 weeks without restriction.

England is also to come into line with both Scotland and Wales with regards to abortion provision, with women able to take the second pill at home, which means they avoid miscarrying on the journey home. The previous rules in England had been called ‘out of step’, with many women describing their experience of miscarrying on a train, in a taxi or whilst on their journey home.

The situation here in the North remains to be as strict as ever. If England’s rules are being called “out of step”, ours are draconian. Pregnant people here still cannot access abortion, except where there is an immediate threat to their life. A Northern Irish woman prosecuted for purchasing abortion pills for her daughter is now appealing her conviction. If the law here were different, she and her family would not have to go through the massive amount of strain put on them, and nor would anyone else.

The ‘legislation’ for abortion here is both regressive and repressive and it is absolutely imperative that the law here is changed, and that pregnant people have the right to choose. A vote in Westminster will be held on Labour MP Diana Johnson’s “ten-minute rule bill” which will call for the decriminalisation of abortion across the UK, including in Northern Ireland. It is necessary that we continuously put pressure on Westminster to vote for the motion, by rallying and protesting so women and pregnant people here will finally have both choice and full bodily autonomy.

By Lucy Marron

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