Northern Ireland’s abortion laws are an abomination. Westminster must step in
The government must heed a select committee report – and end the brutal, primitivist treatment of women in the region
Thu 25 Apr 2019
They were all there: Northern Ireland’s DUP and Sinn Féin leaders, side by side with the Good Friday agreement’s guarantors, the British and Irish prime ministers. All were gathered at the funeral of the journalist Lyra McKee. “Why in God’s name,” asked Fr Martin Magill, had it taken her death to bring them together? But his exasperated tone implied he didn’t expect a political miracle.
Visit this deadlocked region, the UK’s poorest, and it feels transformed from the dark days of the troubles. But its political paralysis is partly a product of Westminster’s longstanding neglect of the region, at least until the DUP unexpectedly came to play a pivotal role in the Brexit psychodrama. The red hand of Ulster holds in its palm the fate of May’s Brexit deal, though the DUP doesn’t represent the far more progressive and forward-looking remain-voting country. The party may yet become Boris Johnson’s kingmakers through its refusal to back Theresa May’s deal.
Theresa May is throwing Northern Irish women under the bus to protect her own weak majority
Co-Chair of Alliance for Choice Tuesday
29 Jan 2019
If you turn on the television or radio this week, you will likely hear men in suits discussing the future of Brexit. There will be business people, lorry drivers, farmers and fisherman debating the prospect of what might happen if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in two months time.
But as the clock ticks on towards 29 March and MPs scramble to stop a no-deal Brexit, there is a consequence that has received little media attention, and it could be one of the most serious yet.
How Brexit Stopped Abortion Being Decriminalised In England And Wales
Brexit has caused countless issues like reproductive rights to be placed on the back burner as the government focuses on making sure we don’t fall off the economic cliff when we leave the EU
June 24, 2018
In England and Wales, along with the other nations of the UK, abortion remains a criminalised offence. Having evolved from Victorian laws, strict clauses are now in place to allow some abortion services (Northern Ireland is not covered by this law). But, if broken, life imprisonment can still be applied to people who have accessed/ helped facilitate an abortion outside the letter of the law. An offence still present to this very day.
This archaic setup has long been protested out of the right for people with child bearing ability to choose the destiny of their body. In 2017 this protest met part fruition for those living in England and Wales with the introduction of the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill to the Commons. The Bill set to remove the life imprisonment sentence for those that might have got caught up by the current system. Labour MP Diana Johnson commented that the current legislation holds “the harshest criminal penalty of any country in Europe, underpinned by a Victorian criminal law passed before women even had the right to vote, let alone sit in this place [The House of Commons]”.
The DUP has backed itself into a corner with its reactionary stance on abortion and gay rights, but Northern Ireland is moving on
The party now finds itself in familiar hypocritical territory: threatening to self-implode if it doesn't get the same Brexit treatment as the rest of Britain, while simultaneously relishing its divergence
Tuesday 29 May 2018
News of the landslide vote to legalise abortions in Ireland this weekend was met with calls for the law to be changed in Northern Ireland too. Sinn Fein’s leaders held up a sign at Dublin Castle reading ‘The North Is Next’, while in London, female ministers put pressure on Theresa May to demonstrate her feminist credentials by backing reform.
This issue, and the continued lack of same sex marriage in Northern Ireland, are finally being recognised by the rest of Britain and Ireland as a serious infringement of rights. While this mainstream discussion is appreciated, we must face the reality.
Northern Irish women still face a future of unsafe and illegal abortions. Now is the time to help us
While many in the UK have shown solidarity with the Irish Republic’s referendum, Northern Ireland’s cruel reproductive laws have largely gone unnoticed
May 26, 2018
On Friday, Ireland took to the polls and, for the first time in history, abortion will become a legal and safe healthcare procedure in the country. It’s a momentous victory. Generations of Irish campaigners have fought for this and finally Ireland has decided to trust women to make their own choices.
But while we rightly celebrate this win for women’s rights, we need to remember that abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland.
Fintan O'Toole: On abortion we are subjects of Brexit Britain
Anti-abortionists depend on pagan England to uphold their vision of a holy Ireland
May 12, 2018
Independence means having your own state. But it is also a state of mind. There has been an independent Irish State for nearly a century, but whether Ireland has ever been psychologically independent is a whole other matter. It is a question, as it happens, that hovers over two of the biggest issues currently occupying Irish minds: Brexit and the abortion referendum. They may seem to be miles apart but underlying both is the extent to which Ireland is ready to be psychologically independent from Britain.
If we leave aside the existential questions of partition and Irish unity, abortion is arguably the last great remnant of post-colonial dependency. Where once the failure of Irish independence was symbolised by the emigrant crossing the Irish Sea on a cattle boat to get a job, now it is symbolised by the Irish woman crossing the Irish Sea on a Ryanair flight to terminate a pregnancy. When it comes to abortion, both those who want it and those who purport to despise it thank God for Mother England. Women depend on England to uphold their right to choose. Anti-abortionists depend on England to uphold their vision of a holy Catholic Ireland where such abominations are not permitted.
Fintan O’Toole: Abortion fake-news firestorm heading our way
Why has Save the 8th hired consultant at heart of Trump-Mercer-Brexit data nexus?
March 27, 2018
If you like my stuff you’re an ignoramus. Many people would agree with this as a general proposition, but I mean it in a more specific sense. If you’ve ever liked or shared one of my columns online, data-analysis firms probably identify you as a hopeless lefty liberal. And you will therefore be ignorant of the big social-media campaign against the repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which bans abortion in almost all circumstances. That campaign will be modelled on those that helped both Donald Trump and Brexit to victory. It will use microtargeting to direct specific messages to those who can be most easily swayed by them. You won’t see them – and as things stand Irish regulations will do nothing to control them.