More than 170 politicians from Britain, Ireland and Northern Ireland demanded that Northern Ireland legalize abortion, and wrote an open letter requesting the region take action to change its reproductive laws.
“This is the first and critical step to ending the treatment of British and Irish women living in Northern Ireland as second-class citizens, who do not enjoy the same access to healthcare as their counterparts do across these islands,” the politicians wrote in their letter to The Sunday Times.
“We therefore call for our respective governments to act to ensure that the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement is upheld and the human rights of the women living in Northern Ireland are respected,” the letter continues, referring to a May 1998 referendum that established a power-sharing assembly to govern Northern Ireland.
Under the powers of the agreement, abortion advocates have called for British Prime Minister Theresa May to act as Northern Ireland’s executive to legalize abortion following Ireland’s May 26 vote to legalize abortion by repealing the Eight Amendment. (RELATED: Theresa May Under Pressure To Amend Abortion Laws In Northern Ireland)
Northern Ireland’s elected assembly can choose to align with Britain’s abortion laws, but voted against doing so in February 2016.
The open letter also claims that close to 1,000 women from Northern Ireland were forced to travel to Britain for abortions in 2017, NBC Chicago reported.
The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court also rejected a challenge on Northern Ireland’s ban on abortions from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) in June. The court ruled the challenge didn’t represent a person who has been victim to Northern Ireland’s law banning abortion and therefore held no weight.
Women in Ireland can abort their unborn babies up until the third month in pregnancy. Between the third and sixth months of pregnancy, abortions will be permitted only in the presence of fatal abnormalities and where the mother’s life is threatened.
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