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8th March 2015, 12:49:42 UTC

Amnesty International Ireland has welcomed the Sinn Féin party’s new support for legal access to abortion services in cases of pregnancies with fatal foetal abnormalities.

A vote yesterday at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis backed a change in party policy to allow for terminations in such circumstances. The party also voted to support the repeal of the 8th amendment to Ireland’s Constitution, which confers an equal right to life on ‘the unborn’ with that of the pregnant woman or girl.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “This move today by Sinn Féin represents an important political commitment to women’s rights north and south of the border. We call on all political parties to bring their positions into human rights compliance. We saw last weekend The Labour Party vote for repealing the 8th amendment of the Constitution, and committing to adopting abortion legislation that is in line with human rights standards. We earnestly hope other parties follow these examples.”

“Ireland’s abortion legislation is grossly out of step with its human rights obligations. The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013 re-criminalised abortion in all circumstances other than “real and substantial risk” to the life of the pregnant woman or girl, with a potential penalty of 14 years. So pregnant women or girls who receive a diagnosis of fatal foetal impairment and wish to terminate, must travel abroad or become a criminal here. This is also their fate if they are pregnant as a result of rape or incest, or the pregnancy posts a serious risk to their health.”

“Ireland has been told by the UN Human Rights Committee that the 8th amendment is no excuse for human rights violations. The Constitution must be brought into line with human rights standards. We call on all political parties to commit to respecting women and girls’ rights.

Additional Information

Last month Amnesty International published a report, Northern Ireland: Barriers to accessing abortion services, which catalogues the obstacles in law, policy and practice which prevents women from accessing abortion. This includes Northern Ireland having the harshest criminal penalty for unlawful abortion anywhere in Europe – life imprisonment both for the woman/girl undergoing an unlawful abortion and for anyone assisting her – and a ‘postcode lottery’ for women trying to access lawful abortion advice and services across Northern Ireland.