Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland abortion laws violate women's rights- says United Nations

By Mark Edwards

A United Nations (UN) report has found abortion laws in Northern Ireland violate the human rights of women here.

The report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women said by unduly restricting abortion to women in Northern Ireland the UK was breaching the rights of women living here.

"Denial of abortion and criminalisation of abortion amounts to discrimination against women because it is a denial of a service that only women need. And it puts women in horrific situations," the committee's vice-chairwoman, Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, said in a statement.

The reports finds that by restricting access to abortion in Northern Ireland the UK is responsible for "grave" and "systematic" violations of women's rights.

The UN Body said that restrictive abortion laws in Northern Ireland are in breach of the UK's international human rights obligations and called on the UK Government to change the law to decriminalise abortion and to provide greater access to abortion for women and girls in the region.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty’s campaigns manager in Northern Ireland, said: “This damning report from the United Nations confirms what Amnesty has long said - Northern Ireland’s draconian abortion laws are a daily violation of the rights of women and girls.

“The UN Committee is very clear that it is the UK Government which is responsible for ensuring that our laws are in line with the state’s international human rights obligations.

“Devolution – even if functioning – does not relieve the UK Government of their responsibility to uphold human rights in Northern Ireland.

“We call on the UK Government to introduce abortion reform legislation at Westminster without any further delay.”

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