Abortion rights campaign continues

The burning issue for abortion rights campaigners in Northern Ireland now is the removal of the scandalous refusal of the NHS in Great Britain to perform abortions on NI women free.

This petition for MPs calls for the government to use its significant powers of regulation to allow women from NI free abortion care on the NHS in Britain.

So the latest is not a new story but the latest development in an ongoing campaign, carried in the Observer.

Internet boom in DIY abortion pills Concern that women in Northern Ireland may misuse an online termination costing only £60, putting their health at risk.
These calls are increasing all the time,” said director of the Family Planning Association in Belfast Audrey Simpson “Travelling for an abortion is expensive by comparison. She said she was concerned that some women purchasing the pills, which should only be used up to the ninth week of pregnancy, had lied about the stage they were at on online questionnaires.”

Canvassed for his opinion, a leading opponent of extending legalised abortion to Northern Ireland Jeffrey Donaldson, replied with what sounds like a threat.

Would he contemplate prosecution of women under the Criminal Justice Act 1945?

Any person who, with intent to destroy the life of a child then capable of being born alive, by any wilful act causes a child to die before it has an existence independent of its mother, shall be guilty of felony, to wit, of child destruction…

If there is greater use of this pill, it is because there are organisations in Northern Ireland which are promoting the use of this medicine which needs to be looked at by the law here.

Does Jeffrey also have the FPA in mind? Surely not. They have blown the whistle on concerns about obtaining abortion pills over the internet, supported by Dawn Purvis. Her support for legalised abortion along with only Alliance’s Anna Lo in the Assembly will be decried of course. People prefer to look at the design of the label rather than the contents of the bottle. Instead, is Jeffrey about to put the finger on Women on Web?

Last month the figures for NI abortions carried out in GB recorded a rise – and as is always pointed out, the total figures may be much higher as they don’t include local women registered as living in GB.

Figures released by Health Minister Michael McGimpsey show that there were 1,343 abortions carried out in England and Wales where the woman gave a home address in Northern Ireland in 2007 — the majority of which would be regarded as illegal here. According to the Department of Health statistics, 6,400 abortions were performed on women from Northern Ireland in hospitals in England and Wales between 2003 and 2007.

Perhaps legal clarification would be useful if approached with an open mind.

  • Padraig

    Its a ‘right’ for a woman to kill her unborn child.

    Its a ‘right’ for homosexuals to get ‘married and adopt children

    Its a ‘right’ not to have religious symbols in schools or public buildings.

    Its a ‘right’ to kill yourself or relatives don’t want to carry on…

    All this makes me wonder what a ‘right’ is an who or what gives us such ‘rights’??

    It also makes me wonder what else is going to be considered a ‘right’ tomorrow which is considered a crime and a sin today?

  • The Raven

    Personally, I can’t wait for Mullah Donaldson to bring a prosecution against a woman who has had an abortion. If ever there was a reason to bear arms against Government, that would be it.

  • Driftwood

    The excellent news that anyone can now buy an abortion pill over the internet will soon make this debate redundant. Would love to see the PSNI and the CPS try and get someone before the courts for that one.
    Welcome to the 21st century. The dinosaurs have had their day.

  • michael

    @ Padraig

    All this makes me wonder what a ‘right’ is and who or what gives us such ‘rights’??

    Good question, i suggest you follow the question to its logical end and see what side of the ‘right to choose debate’ you come down on. I think it’ll have something to do with religious freedom, which by the way includes freedom from religion!

  • Padraig

    Happily we live in ‘The Land That Time Forgot’ and moral relativism [or make it up as you do along] hasn’t caught on here yet.

    As far as this little part of Ireland is concerned we exercise our Democratic right to choose by saying overwhelmingly saying no no to killing the unborn.

    But what do they say about Democracy… if it really worked it would be banned??

    There is nothing in life so illiberal as a liberal on the rampage.

  • Any political party in Northern Ireland who advocates a policy to legalise abortion is going to lose votes. That is my conclusion from talking to people. I hasten to add that my party (NI conservatives does not have an official line on this). I understand that the SDLP is against legalising abortion, whereas Sinn Fein is not (although the latter dont go around admitting that).

    There is a lot of ignorance about abortion and the reasons why the law was put there in the first place. The law was brought into most of the UK back in 1967. There were a great many illegal acts of abortion already taking place. They were not policable and the law was being ignored. If a pregnant female was determined to have an abortion, very little was going to get in the way of stopping her have it. The so called “back-street” abortions were extremely dangerous. There were numerous tragic stories abounding of illegal TOPs going wrong.

    When the legislation was finally passed, politicians viewed it as a “lesser of two evils” balancing exercise. It was done in order to control abortion since the previous criminal law could not prevent it. At the very least, a girl or woman can have an abortion in safe, clinical conditions and counselling is also made available. Abortion is, of course, a health as well as a moral issue.

    Northern Ireland and the Republic did not allow abortion, with the result that many pregant females travelled to England to obtain a termination.

    I personally would be in favour of bringing abortion into Northern Ireland, if it was politically possible but I am no more in favour of abortion than the next person. My view of social lawmaking is that for a law to be passed, it has to work and it has to meet people where they are.

    I dont suppose that approach would find any support in Northern Ireland. It is a very divisive issue. I would add that my wife is against me on this one.

  • Padraig

    [b]They were not policable and the law was being ignored. [/b]

    As good an argument for legalising organised crime and heavy drugs as I’ve ever heard.

  • Driftwood

    here you go Padraig

    http://www.womenonweb.org/

    just a mouse click away…..

  • Padraig

    …and I can get pot from Holland. my granny stiffed in Switzerland, pictures of naked kids from Thailand, a wife from Russia all online , just a click away….your point being…..

  • Padraig

    …that if you can do it online you might as well make it legal anyway.

    the same case , then, could well be made for online child pornography.

  • 6cp

    There are alternatives to taking the life of an unborn child. Why is it that so few ‘pro-choice’ advocates wish to discuss other options? I found it quite ironic that the following advert link was at the bottom of this pro-abortion post:
    http://www.hh76.com/pro_life_products.asp?group_id=2&referral_id=3

  • Driftwood

    Padraig
    Abortion to the straw man of child pornography????

    Abortion is no different than using a condom ffs.
    The same outcome. No pun intended.

    This is the 21st century, not the 17th, get real.

  • Driftwood

    Just as an aside Padraig, what site do you get your pot from Holland on? purely academic of course. Good stuff?

  • cynic

    Padraig

    Until last week there was a Bolivian Hitmen site on Facebook. Should we make that legal too?

    Oh the possibilities it would bring…….

  • cynic

    Wonder what Jeffrey thinks about the morning after pill too? That’s freely available here and depending upon when its taken an embryo could have just formed and be implanting, so on the absolutist analysis that’s mother doctor and chemist all locked up. God it will do wonders for Hugh Orde’s crime figures and think of the extra income for Solicitors and the Bar. This could be the key to beating the recession.

    But if the DUPs seriously want to take this one on they must be madder than anyone thought. Unless of course the TUV come out with an even madder policy like compulsory pregnancies for all women over a certain age because its probably God’s will. The whole place could degenerate into something like Craggy Island….. which is a shame because its a really serious issue that affects a lot of very vulnerable woman and their partners.

  • Newton Emerson

    The abortion ‘debate’ is a bit of a luxury while GPs and hospitals still refuse to give out basic contraception.
    According to a 1997 survey by Family Planning Practices, 6 per cent of GPs here routinely deny contraception to patients on religious grounds and 2 per cent refuse to dispense it at all. This study had an 82 per cent response rate and the suspicion is the other 18 per cent won’t even discuss the issue.
    A 2004 BBC survey found that 13 out of NI’s 15 A&E;units won’t dispese the morning after pill, again due to religious objections by staff. We also have a major NHS hospital in central Belfast operating under a “Catholic ethos” – which means refusing to dispense contraception or perform any procedure resulting in sterilisation or the loss of a foetus.

    The cowardice of the Northern Ireland BMA branch on this is particularly reprehensible, although not surprising given the Jesus-Freak count in the local medical profession. Love the spineless silence from the Human Rights and Equality Commissions as well.

  • Cahal

    Personal responsibility?

    Not much of that going around these days.

  • Liberal

    Abortion is soooo cool ! I love it.

    It should be legal up until the child is 5 years. Women have a right to have a doctor strangle their kids and anyone who says differently is a dinosaur from the 17th century and intolerant for having an opinion different to mine.

  • Salem

    As Bernie Smyth would like me and many other young women like me to be know as Murderers !

    Sexual Education and family planning will help many young women to avoid making that ulimate choice and I think as we should not be seen shame\blame those women who make that ulimate decision.

    Thank you to Newton – i didnt know that some hospitals have refused to provide the morning after pill to some people due to staff religious beliefs.

    There should be equality for those women here in Northern Ireland as their counterparts in the United Kingdom have. If not we give equality in regards to access – we must install those care and support networks for those women.

    I dont think that anyone has the right to tell a woman what to do with her body, it is her body and her choice. Although I dont agree with all methods of termination, however I would respect the decision that a woman makes.

  • Danny Boy

    @ Newton Emerson: Surely this makes the abortion debate even more vital, rather than a ‘luxury’?

  • Anne

    I can’t believe there are people refusing the pill on religious grounds. Thats wrong.

    “There are alternatives to taking the life of an unborn child. Why is it that so few ‘pro-choice’ advocates wish to discuss other options?”

    Yes, if a woman does not want to have an abortion she can give her child up for adoption. There’s a word to describe this action. It was this womans ——-?

    What’s the word I should put here?

    Hint. It sounds like voice.

  • Salem

    Pregnancy puts a womens body under serious stress and will change her body completely. Its not just as simple as “why doesnt she carry the baby full term and then give it up for adoption ?” Its not just the emotional stress which is caused by adoption but the physical stress which the mother would suffer during the pregnancy.

  • cynic

    Before we have a go about the Hospitals etc, it’s worth reflecting that they operate within the policies set out by the Government we elect.

    Ultimately, this is our fault for electing reactionary bigots who think they have an invisible friend who looks after them …. or say they think that.

  • cynic

    A terrible thought just struck me. Perhaps the dinosaurs didn’t die out after all. They just moved here and evolved into politicians.

  • Nomad

    Padraig,

    All this makes me wonder what a ‘right’ is an who or what gives us such ‘rights’??

    Born, as we supposedly are, in a free society, laws should really only be created where there is a very good (and agreed upon) reason.

    I’m not saying there is not a good reason to prevent abortions, but you’re not really giving us any.. As for being on the rampage- I note you came in with the first post, very much attacking the man/woman/women/men!!

    “A 2004 BBC survey found that 13 out of NI’s 15 A&E;units won’t dispese the morning after pill, again due to religious objections by staff.”

    If Newton is correct above regarding the refusal of medical staff to administer drugs as is NHS policy then I would suggest they should not be working where they are, whether they find a job in an NHS office or elsewhere..

  • Clumperino

    It is about time women in NI had access to safe and legal abortions on the NHS! While our politicians sit on the hill moralising over women’s reproductive rights, thousands of women are travelling to the GB or other parts of Europe and paying for medical services that should be avilable here.

    We need to stop the need for women to travel or source medication online to terminate pregnancy and stop exporting our problem.

    Women in NI are getting abortions. This doesn’t mean they are sluts or whores. It doesn’t mean they are lazy and selfish. It means that women in NI are making the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy. This is not an easy way out. Pregnancy and children should not be a punishment – they should be wanted and a decision to be a parent should be taken in a mature and sensible way.

    We need to address this issue locally by allowing women to have safe and legal NHS abortions in NI.