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Over 130 UK parliamentarians call for legal access to abortion in Northern Ireland

On International Women’s Day, over 130 MPs and peers have written a letter to Minister for Women and Equalities Amber Rudd calling for her to provide equal access to abortion services for Northern Ireland women as to those in England, Scotland, and Wales. Humanists UK, who has campaigned for a number of years for reproductive and sexual rights in Northern Ireland, welcomes this intervention and calls upon the UK Government to recognise the growing political will for change.

The letter asks for Amber Rudd to use the upcoming Domestic Violence Bill as a vehicle to enact this change. It has been signed by parliamentarians from both houses and all major parties, including former Education Secretary Justine Greening, shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and the proposer of the 1967 Abortion Act Lord Steel.

This letter follows the publication of a damning report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) last month, which found that Northern Ireland’s near-total prohibition on abortion gravely and systemically violates women’s rights – something it is the UK Government’s ultimate responsibility to fix.

Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan commented, ‘Both the UN CEDAW report last month and the parliamentarians who have signed this letter today have made it explicitly clear that the abortion restrictions in Northern Ireland are a breach of women’s rights. It is also clear that it is ultimately the responsibility of the Government in Westminster to redress these violations, regardless of who they have a parliamentary pact with, what matters are devolved, or what the state of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly is. The responsibility for upholding human rights cannot be ignored in favour of political expediency.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan on rachel@humanism.org.uk or 07951 176 245, or Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator on boyd.sleator@nihumanists.org or on 07470 395090.

Read a copy of the letter: http://www.itv.com/news/utv/2018-03-08/mps-call-for-abortion-rights-to-extend-to-ni/

Read the report from CEDAW: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=INT%2fCEDAW%2fITB%2fGBR%2f8637&Lang=en

Read more about Humanists UK’s campaigns work on abortion: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/public-ethical-issues/sexual-and-reproductive-rights/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/

Northern Ireland Humanists is a part of Humanists UK, working with the Humanist Association of Ireland.

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