Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, bpas, said:
“It would be sickening yet unsurprising to learn that the government had deliberately blocked the opportunity for Parliament to address the intolerable breach of human rights suffered by the women of Northern Ireland.
“This bill is a unique chance to overhaul the 150 year old Offences Against The Person Act, which contains among the harshest penalties for unlawful abortion in the world and which has a profoundly detrimental impact on women in some of the most difficult circumstances - including situations of domestic violence. This is a matter of urgency.
“Parliament has already made clear it supports the reform of this offensive legislation, which fails to distinguish between the man who assaults his pregnant partner to cause her to miscarry a wanted pregnancy and the woman who uses pills to end a pregnancy she cannot and does not wish to continue. The reform we propose would see women and their care providers removed from the criminal law, while those who assault women and cause them to lose wanted pregnancies would face tough penalties.
"Westminster has a duty to act on behalf of the women of Northern Ireland - at the very least the Government should allow Parliament the opportunity to address the huge injustice they are compelled to suffer every day.”
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Notes to Editors:
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year 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.