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2nd June 2020, 18:10:19 UTC

Amnesty International today called on Sinn Féin to support the right of women across the island of Ireland to have full access to abortion services, including in cases of serious and not just fatal foetal impairments. This is in line with the recommendation of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women to the UK and other states.

The call follows the party’s tabling an amendment to a DUP motion to have Northern Ireland’s new abortion regulations exclude access in non-fatal “disabilities” cases. The motion is being debated in the Northern Ireland Assembly today. Sinn Féin’s amendment effectively supports the DUP’s position

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said:

“While this is a Northern Ireland issue today, we are very concerned at the impact this position will likely have on Sinn Féin’s support for women in Ireland too.
Addressing the limited access to abortion under the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act must be a human rights priority for the new Oireachtas and Government. One major gap in our law is the exclusion of pregnancies with severe rather than fatal foetal impairments.

We are further concerned at the regrettable message this amendment sends to women and society on both sides of the border. It is time to put an end to stigma and shame for all women. Especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, it is unacceptable to force any woman to travel outside Ireland to access a service that is their human right.

We urge Sinn Féin to reverse this position. We call on the party to publicly affirm its commitment to fully human rights compliant abortion law and services across the Island of Ireland.”

Gráinne Teggart, Northern Ireland Campaigns Manager for Amnesty International UK said:

“This motion will change nothing legally, but is a clear signal that the DUP wants to roll back the hard-won rights of women and girls.
“Sinn Féin and other parties must not prop up a dangerous anti-choice agenda – instead, they should support human rights and show they’re on the side of women.

“Women and girls are being failed and forgotten – left without vital abortion services, despite regulations coming into force 2 months ago.

“The priority right now should be women’s safety and well-being. The Department of Health in Northern Ireland must urgently commission services and ensure they are accessible to all who need them. This is where MLAs should be focusing their attention.”