Nicholl: Reproductive healthcare should not come with guaranteed harassment

Alliance Councillor Kate Nicholl has spoken of her ‘absolute disgust’ at Belfast City Councillors who abstained on a motion aimed at ending the harassment and intimidation women seeking reproductive healthcare often face.

Councillor Kate Nicholl said: “This motion showcased exactly which Councillors were prepared to stand back and allow the often cruel tactics deployed by protesters to continue to be used. It is absolutely unacceptable that in 2017 this sort of harassment still secures support from elected representatives.

“I am particularly surprised at the attitude taken by some SDLP members, who abstained when even the DUP – the most Conservative party in NI – can support such a motion.

“Centres like Marie Stopes offer a number of important and legal sexual health services and while people should have the right to peacefully assembly and exercise freedom of expression, there is nothing peaceful about verbal abuse, about brutal imagery, about cruel personal remarks, about threatening exposure on social media, about attempting to publicly shame women seeking healthcare and the range of other tactics deployed simply to frighten those seeking help.

“The motion debated tonight simply condemned harassment and intimidation women face seeking healthcare. Women should have the right to walk through Belfast free from harassment, intimidation and fear of assault. It’s a disgrace not all councillors would support that.”

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