From left: Queen Mary’s University last night: Speakers from left Ailbhe Smyth, Dr Leah Desmond, Fiona de Londres, Emma Campbell and Ann Furedi
Queen Mary’s University, London.
More than 300 people attended an event to to support the campaign to make abortion legal in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Laura O’Neill, of the London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign, writes
We heard from several speakers, who detailed a number of legal cases, including the prosecution of a woman for helping her 15-year-old daughter access abortion pills online.
A Belfast Court has granted leave for a judicial review, but if convicted the mother faces up to 10 years in prison.
Details of the case drew gasps from the audience, which was mainly made up of Irish ex-pats:
Emma Campbell from the Alliance for Choice told the crowd that the current laws are especially unfair on poorer women, who cannot afford to travel for an abortion.
Ann Furedi from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, an organisation which helps women access abortion, echoed her sentiments.
“We stand with our sisters in Northern Ireland and the Republic. Women in Ireland need abortion for the same reasons as women in Britain.”
She called for the law in Northern Ireland to be brought in line with the rest of the UK “so women living in Newcastle, County Down have the same access as women in Newcastle on Tyne”.
Ailbhe Smyth from the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment based in the Republic of Ireland said she was heartened by the “huge crowd” who attended.
She told the audience that she believed a constitutional referendum on the Eighth Amendment would take place in the Republic within the next 18 months.
“The ban against abortion is dangerous and fatal in some cases. It’s great to see a social movement around this. I believe this is a fight we can win,” she added.
Ms Smyth also expressed concerns over the implications that Brexit could have on the 3,600 women, who are forced to leave Ireland to access abortion services every year.
“What will happen to these women if border or immigration controls come in? We simply don’t know if women will be able to travel freely. Media reports suggest that this vitally important issue wasn’t discussed when An Taoiseach Enda Kenny met British Prime Minister, Theresa May, in Dublin last Monday….
The Eighth Amendment is a profound source of discrimination and national shame for Ireland and we are calling on our young Irish diaspora to support its repeal. These are young women and men who want – and expect – to return to an Ireland that is just, committed to equality, and where women have the right to make our own reproductive decisions.”
The London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign