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True equality for women means having a choice

Fionola Meredith (Comment, February 15) highlights what is rarely allowed to be spoken: equality for women in Northern Ireland. Fionola's column is a call for a rational discussion on the rights of women - not something often put up for public discussion here.

Pro-choice does not mean forced abortion; the clue is in the title - choice.

A woman should have the right to choose when she has children and how many she has.

Scientific studies have shown this to be a fast-track to reducing poverty and population, as well as the wider social and economic benefits gained by society when women play a more active role.

If a woman prefers to go ahead with a pregnancy, that should also be her choice.

Free choice and equality are the issues here, regardless of religious morals and scaremongering stories.

Stormont has an all-party group on Pro-life, but not on Pro-choice, equality or even women.

We have soaring rates of sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, mental abuse and child poverty in our society. Abortion is another example of 'access denied' to Northern Irish women.

Until we collectively stand up and acknowledge the position of women in modern day Ireland, with the will to create the conditions for full equality of opportunity and full equality of choice, we will continue to allow personal moral judgment to be the measure of equal status for women.

CLARE BAILEY

Belfast

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