This week’s action items
Today is the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. EFC’s Youth Advisors have written some blogposts on abortion worldwide to mark this event.
Abortion in Northern Ireland is only legal in exceptional circumstances where the life of the pregnant woman is at immediate risk and if there is a long term or permanent risk to her physical or mental health. 95% of women who are in need of an abortion are stopped from having one. When faced with an unplanned pregnancy a woman is confronted with the decision to either continue the pregnancy, travel elsewhere (such as England) for an abortion or risk their health purchasing illegal and potentially unsafe abortion pills over the internet. All of the above choices are not necessarily what is best for the woman when it comes to her emotional and economic health.
The countless numbers of women who have been forced to continue with a pregnancy; even if she was raped, suffered incest, diagnosis of foetal abnormality, already has ten children, her health is at risk or the myriad of other reasons; means that often the emotional trauma suffered from the continuance of the pregnancy does more harm than an abortion would. This is not even covering the economic and familial stress from travelling abroad for an abortion; women can pay up to £2,000 for a private abortion in the UK. Understandably this isn’t a choice for all women faced with an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. The health consequences and the risks involved from purchasing unsafe and illegal abortion pills over the internet are worth thinking about, it makes you question if we’ve moved on from the backstreet abortions prior to the Abortion Act in 1967. In 1966 alone up to 40 women a year in the UK died from the complications of an unsafe, illegal abortion and these are just the ones we know about.
Until Northern Ireland takes further steps to make safe and legal abortion more accessible and less restricted we cannot fully say that the UK has accessible abortion. . We need to stand up and demand full choice over their bodies and not forget that women in England, Wales and Scotland are lucky enough to be able to access safe and legal abortion and that many pro-choice women and men in Northern Ireland are still fighting for that right.