Abortion: Anti-Choice Law Challenged in North of Ireland


A Judicial Review into the North's abortion law has begun today and is expected to last three days. The final decision of the case taken by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) is not expected until the Autumn. Women's right to bodily autonomy must be vindicated without delay.

Currently in the North you can have an abortion if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, including risk of suicide, and if you are under 9 weeks gestation.

The HRC is seeking for this tight legal criteria to be extended to allow abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities and sexual crime. It is quite clear that women in the North are discriminated against; in all other parts of the UK you can access an abortion for free under the NHS yet women from the North must travel and must pay for an abortion.

It was heard today in court that in 2013 there were 515 assaults on girls aged 13+ and that 5 girls aged under 16 had to travel to England to procure an abortion.

The right to an abortion is the cornerstone for female autonomy, the slogan of "My body, my choice!" really could not be truer. Bodily autonomy is the idea that people have a right to do what they wish with their body; if they consent to it they can donate an organ, they can donate blood, but this can only be done with a given consent, even if someone could die if the donation doesn't occur, this cannot be legally forced.

A female body is a necessary component for pregnancy. It is unjust to force a person to go through pregnancy; to go through the changes and dangers that pregnancy entails against their wishes.

It's quite clear that banning abortion is completely irresponsible. It does not stop abortion happening, it makes it more difficult to obtain an abortion, putting the pregnant person through mental and sometimes physical turmoil. In certain cases it stops safe abortion. Globally this results in the deaths of 47,000 women a year.

The governments on this island are depriving women of dignity when they chase us away, and deprive us of our own environments, our own doctors and our own beds to return to when they force us to travel for a medical procedure.

If the HRC win this case it would be a massive success and another defeat for the religious right on this island but we must be careful, however, to move beyond this idea of "deserving women" when it comes to abortion. If you truly believe in bodily autonomy no reason other than "I am pregnant and I do not want to be" should be given for wanting an abortion.

Opposing this legal challenge we have the usual suspects; the religious so-called "Pro-Life" organisation, Precious Life. Even in cases where the foetus is not viable Precious Life would still have the mother giving birth.

They would have someone carry a foetus for X amount of months knowing that at the end of it they will be planning a funeral, dealing with questions such as "when are you due?" "do you know what you're having".

In this case they're not pro-life, they pro-birth, but all in all they're anti-choice.