South Belfast MLA Paula Bradshaw has said a Parliamentary report into abortion law in Northern Ireland shows the need for immediate action from the UK Government, regardless of the status of devolution.
The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee report said the Government must address the lack of clarity about abortion law here as it is creating confusion, fear and inequality.
“Abortion is a conscience issue for Alliance but I recognise this report sets out some clear and immediate actions required from the UK Government to clarify the law and de-criminalise vulnerable women seeking to do the right thing,” said Ms Bradshaw.
“The UK Government needs to rectify the nonsense that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission can only take cases if there is a victim. We need to hear from the Secretary of State immediately on the timeline for action so this will be rectified by the end of the summer.
“We also need clarity from the Government Equalities Office that referring women to a funded scheme to access abortion provision where they choose, as UK or Irish citizens, is not unlawful, and to ensure from the Attorney General guidance, similar to the guidance on social security, to state it is not in the public interest to prosecute survivors of rape or incest nor any professionals treating them. There must also be clarity of a doctor’s absolute duty of confidentiality to patients.
“In addition, the Government should set out a timeline for meeting the requirements of the report of the Working Group on Fatal Foetal Abnormality as commissioned by Northern Ireland Ministers. In my view, as this is a human rights issue and has clearly now been found legally and politically to be so, this includes legislating by the end of the year in the event that there is no devolved local legislature.
“The Government also needs to set a clear timeline for meeting all the requirements of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in Northern Ireland in general, in the same circumstances.