Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, bpas, said:
"We are absolutely delighted that the people of Ireland have voted by what appears to be a huge majority to repeal the 8th amendment. This is a momentous step forward that is long overdue. For decades, Irish women have been forced to travel hundreds of miles to our clinics in England, often alone, at a huge personal and emotional cost. The result, once confirmed, means that the Irish government can bring an end to this suffering, and legislate to provide the care women need at home. Voters have shown that it is not abortion that is unacceptable in 2018, but denying that care to women when they need it. Now more than ever it is time for the UK government to show the same respect for the women of Northern Ireland.
"Every day, around three women from Northern Ireland travel to England for abortion care or illegally seek pills online – risking up to life in prison, under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA). A mother is currently awaiting trial in Belfast after purchasing abortion medication for her young daughter. The UK government cannot continue to try and absolve itself of their responsibility to these women. Indeed just this year, a UN Committee declared that the government in Westminster is violating the rights of women of Northern Ireland due to the current law, and recommended that abortion should be decriminalised by repealing the relevant sections of the OAPA. While the government can say that abortion is a devolved issue, human rights are not, and the collapse of the NI Assembly means that the power to right this wrong lies solely in Westminster.
"It is time for change across the whole island of Ireland. The UK government must show the same care and compassion towards women that voters in Ireland have done so historically today."
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Notes to Editors:
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year, including those from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.