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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Abortion laws in Northern Ireland

9 replies

TossedSaladsAndScrambledEggs · 02/03/2014 20:40

I'm sorry if this debate has been done a million times on here, but I am doing research for an essay on the topic and I am shocked by what I have read.

Of course I have always been aware that abortion is illegal in NI, but I was not aware how harsh the punishments can be - anyone who has or performs an abortion is liable to LIFE imprisonment, any HCP who fails to report a procedure they have knowledge of can get up to 10 YEARS in prison.

Imminent death of the mother may just about justify interventions that incidentally cause harm to the fetus. but abnormalities of the fetus are not recognised as grounds for termination. How traumatic it must be for mothers to be forced to continue with pregnancies with severe abnormalities that are not capatible with life?!

It is all set out in this document.

Sorry if I was naive but this has really shocked me.

OP posts:
TossedSaladsAndScrambledEggs · 02/03/2014 20:48

Life imprisonment can also extend to anyone who assists or encouarges anyone to get an abortion! Shock

OP posts:
angelinterceptor · 02/03/2014 20:55

There have been some heartbreaking stories in the past 6 months if you search on bbcni or local papers.
The amount of women forced to travel to England at great expense and often alone for abortion is staggering.

noddingoff · 03/03/2014 20:38

Well, considering we have a health minister who doesn't think gay people should be allowed to donate blood and gets his scientific ideas from the Old Testament, don't hold your breath for any change in the law any time soon.

NiceTabard · 03/03/2014 22:30

Yes you are right of course.

I think a lot of people are quite simply unaware that NI does not adhere to standards in the rest of the UK when it comes to reproductive health for women. I think a lot of people know that Ireland doesn't, and that many women come over here - as per angel's point. But they don't realise that NI is more in line with Ireland (a different country) than the UK (of which it is a part).

I find it shocking that there is not much much more negative commentary about these laws which are utterly out of step with the rest of the UK.

Honestly it riles and upsets me all the time. I live in a part of the united kingdom. Women elsewhere within this (pretty small actually) kingdom are being denied what I see as basic rights. And I can't do fuck all about it.

If we can't change things in our OWN sphere, WTF are we doing complaining about things anywhere else? We get aerated (rightly) about stuff going on elsewhere in the world - these are laws in our OWN PARLIAMENT.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep · 03/03/2014 22:47

Well, historically, NI was being fought over by two types of religious extremists, but the one thing they could agree on was that women shouldn't be allowed abortions. The dirty hoors. Hmm

So I guess laws that both sides actually agreed on were put at the bottom of the pile for discussion. Never mind that NI women become second-class citizens of the UK....

Maybe one day they'll get round to sorting it out. Maybe.

Also, I guess there's pressure from Ireland not to allow it; popping over the border to fill your tank with petrol is one thing, but flouting god's holy laws is another.

TeiTetua · 03/03/2014 23:39

It seems like politics at work--it's to avoid offending the Northern Ireland Catholics, at least the ones who are most prominent. What would the IRA say about abortion? My guess is they'd be against it. Meanwhile the Protestants (again, the ones in leadership positions) aren't exactly progressive by comparison; in theory they could say "Let's stay with Britain, women should have the right to abortion, unlike in that place south of the border" but somehow that's not a likely motivating force for them. So the peace is kept, at women's expense.

wigglesrock · 04/03/2014 10:34

The politicians are absolutely gutless when it comes to abortion in NI. Always have been, but they can argue that the electorate don't want the relaxation of the law. I have said every time this has come up on MN, that I'm nearly 40, have daughters & the lack of provision for abortion here is nothing short of willful neglect. When the local politicians come round looking for your vote, they literally shit themselves when I ask them when they plan on dealing with the inequality. Well apart from certain parties who seem to take a gleeful delight in regimenting women's health issues.

I travelled with a friend twenty years ago when she had an abortion - I can't even begin to describe how horrendous it was & how frightened we both were. On a stinking ferry, afraid of who would see us, the money we tried so hard to get, the lies & absolute panic incase someone from work, the street saw us. The no aftercare my friend received - she didn't tell her GP. Those 2 days will never ever leave me.

No-one I know opposes abortion here & I'm a wc Catholic - it's the politicians not wanting to take the issue on & the hardline religious extremists that feel that their way is slipping away.

I have posed the question to a police officer here before re prosecution for abortion - there is no law against travelling for an abortion. Abortion outside the legal framework - the complaint would need to come from the woman who had the abortion re coercement etc.

As previous posters have said there were 2 in particular heartbreaking & very brave reports down by 2 women that were on BBC NI/ Newsline late last year.

And just for info Marie Stopes opened in Belfast last year, with pre 9 weeks abortion availability.

NiceTabard · 04/03/2014 21:27

wiggles your post reminded me of recent posts about Spain, where they are trying to remove the current abortion laws and only allow abortion if the mother's life is in serious danger (off the top of my head). The point being, that a huge proportion of Spanish people are pro-women's choice ie pro abortion to some extent or another - it was 80% for I think (again off the top of my head) but the legislation is being pushed by the right wing religious groups pressurising the current conservative government.

How is it that, or the situation in NI, related to democracy? How can laws be passed / not overturned, when only a small minority support them?

It's ridiculous.

wigglesrock · 05/03/2014 08:59

Because people vote on religious lines. It makes for very lazy politicians. People vote with the party that they agree with 75% of their policies & women's "issues" are way down the pecking order. It's happened with the 11+ / transfer tests fiasco as well. Most people are in despair & the fiasco the Education system been left in, but the Education Minister argues they've a mandate because they were voted in, they were voted in on other issues but voters can't pick & choose - I've explained that very badly sorry. There such a intwinment between religion & politics but that's because of injustices in the past & that's very difficult to shake or dilute.

For example the SDLP were set up as a civil rights party, were there at the beginning, did so much very good work re trade unions, workers rights, voting rights but now are full of white, middle class men who can't reconcile civil rights with womens rights.

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