Voice for Choice stands in solidarity with the three Derry women who handed themselves into the police yesterday, to provoke a discussion on the injustice of Northern Ireland’s prohibitive abortion law.
Chair of Voice for Choice, Lisa Hallgarten said: ‘This action captures the growing frustration with the Northern Ireland government for failing to reform its punitive abortion law; and for its decision to prosecute abortion pill-use which clearly discriminates against poor, young and vulnerable women who cannot travel to the UK mainland for a safe, legal abortion. Women in Northern Ireland must not be criminalised, convicted or imprisoned for making decisions that women in most of Europe make and enact freely every day of the year. We stand in solidarity with these women for courageously highlighting this unjust abortion law.’
Quoted in this article in the Guardian, Goretti Horgan of Alliance for Choice says “The law is being broken on a daily basis, but they don’t want activists on trial. They don’t want to arrest anyone except the isolated, vulnerable women, who they have to arrest because someone has reported them to the police,”
The three women – all members of Alliance for Choice – told police they had provided abortion pills to other women, in contravention of the law and in protest at the recent conviction of a 21 year old woman for using abortion pills bought online. Another woman is awaiting trial, charged with procuring abortion medication for her teenage daughter. Unlike the rest of the UK where abortion is available on a number of grounds and is provided free on the NHS, women in Northern Ireland must travel to England or other parts of Europe if they want a safe and legal abortion. A recent court case confirmed the legality of refusing them NHS-funded abortions. Women are expected to fund the costs of the abortion on top of any transport costs. This can add up to several hundred pounds. By contrast web-based organisations like Women Help Women and Women on Web charge around £60 for abortion medication.