NI needs the 1967 Abortion Act
  • Petitioned Northern Ireland Assembly

This petition was delivered to:

Northern Ireland Assembly

NI needs the 1967 Abortion Act

    1. Petition by

      I ♥ 1967

Background

The 1967 Abortion Act, which other regions of the UK rely on for guidance in relation to termination of pregnancy, was never extended or adopted in Northern Ireland. Abortion law is governed by the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 which criminalises any individual who induces their own abortion or any person who aids her – both, under the law, “shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be kept in penal servitude for life."

The law in Northern Ireland has been widened by a number of judgements from the 1990s, allowing abortion when the mental or physical health of the individual is in 'grave' danger of 'serious and permanent damage'. Abortion remains illegal when pregnancy occurs as a result of rape or in cases of foetal abnormality.

Abortion is not easily accessible through the NHS, even when an individual clearly has a legal right to one. For those who are pregnant as a result of rape, foetal abnormalities have been identified or for those who feel they simply cannot continue a pregnancy, there are limited choices - carry the pregnancy to term, travel to England for an expensive but legal abortion or to access illegal abortion pills. Over 1,000 people a year find the £800+ needed to travel to England and pay for a private abortion. We do not know how many induce their own abortions using other methods but we have every reason to believe it amounts to hundreds every year

Facts and Figures

·       A survey carried out by FPA in Northern Ireland in 2008 found nearly two-thirds (62%) of Northern Irish people polled said that abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest.

·       A further FPA survey of gynaecologists in NI showed that 57% would support liberalising the current abortion law and more than two-thirds (76%) agree that abortion should be legal on grounds of foetal abnormality.

·       In 2009, medical sociologist Colin Francome surveyed 37 out of 42 gynaecologists working in NI and found that a majority of respondents would support liberalising the current abortion law, with only 32% saying the law should stay as it is. Asked under what conditions they would personally carry out abortions, 70% said foetal abnormality and 49% said where the woman has been raped, although 68% said it should be legal in cases of rape. There was widespread support for abortion being available on the NHS, 73% wanted free abortions for NI women forced to travel for the procedure; and 51% supported major abortion charities being licensed to carry out abortions in Northern Ireland.

·       Francome’s survey of GPs in NI found that 70% of respondents agreed that the decision whether or not to continue a pregnancy should be left to the woman in consultation with her doctor. One worrying statistic from the survey of GPs is that 11% had seen evidence of amateur abortion attempts, though hopefully such dangerous practices are no longer happening since the abortion pill became available over the internet.

·       In 2009, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, recommended that the NI Assembly “amend the abortion law to bring it in line with the 1967 Abortion Act with a view to preventing clandestine and unsafe abortions in cases of rape, incest or foetal abnormality.”

Aim of the petition

We are calling on the Northern Ireland Assembly to hear the UN, medical professionals and, most importantly, the Northern Irish public in their plea to review the current abortion laws, extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland, and end the practice of forcing individuals to continue with unwanted pregnancies, travelling unsupported to access abortion services in England, and using illegal abortion pills or otherwise.

To:
Northern Ireland Assembly
I call on you to review the current abortion laws and extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland, and end the practice of forcing individuals to continue with unwanted pregnancies, travelling unsupported to access abortion services in England, and accessing illegal abortion pills or otherwise.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 1,500 signatures
    2. 1,000 Signatures!!

      We have surpassed 1,000 signatures.

      To continue supporting the campaign:
      - Visit our blog (extend1967.wordpress.com)
      - Follow us on Twitter @NIextend1967
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      - Buy campaign posters and badges for solidarity demonstrations (www.zazzle.co.uk/extend1967/gifts)

      Thank you
      Sarah

    3. Reached 1,000 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Lee Hallam BELFAST, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 4 months ago

      An outrage that this is still a problem and that women are still suffering as a result of an intentionally lazy and dismissive government.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Audrey Worthington BELFAST, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 5 months ago

      The choice should be available to all women to do as they think is best for them. Abortions will continue to be performed on Northern Irish women in England, throwing this obstacle in the way at such a traumatic time is criminal. It is not the place of the state to impose moral opinion on the greater secular population. This should be a fundamental right, as it is in other parts of the UK.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Lindsay Baxter LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 5 months ago

      Human rights

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Paul Cohen BELFAST, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 5 months ago

      The choice should belong to the woman

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Michelle Dowd RANDALSTOWN, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 5 months ago

      If a woman wants to have an abortion, SHE CAN. Its not fair that women in Northern Ireland are denied that, its time that the people of NI come out of the dark ages...it's the 21st century! A word to everybody....if you sign this petition you will not only be changing the women's rights of today but you will be changing women's rights of the future.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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