Amnesty International has welcomed today’s passing of a motion at Sinn Féin’s Ard Fheis which extends the party’s support for abortion access to when a woman or girl’s physical or mental health is at risk. The motion also reasserts their opposition to the criminalisation of women who make the decision to have an abortion. It also commits the party to developing a women’s health policy, which takes into consideration the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on access to abortion in the Republic of Ireland.
“We welcome today’s vote in favour access to abortion for women and girls in Ireland where their health is at risk. We hope this policy shift will enable the party’s representatives on the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment to vote in favour of the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations. This Committee has heard the international public health and human rights evidence that making abortion available on request in early pregnancy, and in specific circumstances thereafter, would ensure effective and timely access. We call on all political parties to recognise this reality, and support a framework for access to abortion which put women’s health, human rights and autonomy at its core,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland.
“No woman or girl should ever face criminal sanctions for having or seeking an abortion regardless of her circumstances. At a time when women are actively being criminalised in Northern Ireland, this is an important step on the road to decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland. However, health providers too should not face criminal charges for simply providing essential abortion services. We call on all parties across the island of Ireland to support the full decriminalisation of abortion. Criminal law and the threat of punitive sanctions should never be used to control or remove women’s and girls’ ability to make autonomous decisions around their own reproductive health and lives. Healthcare workers should not face specific criminal penalties for providing abortion services – this should be regulated in the same way as any other health service. Decriminalisation will remove the climate of fear and stigma surrounding access to abortion,” said Grainne Teggart, Campaign Manager for Amnesty International Northern Ireland.