Northern Ireland Proposes Abortion Rights Amendment

Members of Parliament (MPs) in Northern Ireland have proposed an amendment to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill that would give women the same abortion rights available in Britain. According to the BBC News, women are currently denied abortions in Northern Ireland by the National Health Service (NHS).

Abortion is only available in Northern Ireland if the pregnancy threatens the woman’s life. The 1967 Abortion Act that made the procedure legal in the UK was never enacted in Northern Ireland, forcing thousands of women to travel to mainland Britain for abortions, reports The Independent.

“This fundamental inequity must be remedied,” said Diane Abbot, the MP that tabled the clause, according to a Healthcare Republic press release. “Forty years after the 1967 Abortion Act women in Northern Ireland are still facing conditions more reminiscent of the 19th century. All women in the UK must be given fair and rapid access to safe, legal abortion when they need it.”

Despite a clear pro-choice majority in the British Parliament, the amendment is heavily opposed by MPs from Northern Ireland, reports The Independent. The amendment will be debated and voted upon this fall.


BBC News 7/23/2008; Healthcare Republic 7/23/2008; The Independent 7/23/2008

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