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State apology call for those who left Northern Ireland for terminations

By Lisa Smyth

The deputy leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland has called for a State apology to women forced to leave for an abortion.

Clare Bailey said women hre were being denied basic human rights as a result of the peace process and called for urgent action by Westminster to decriminalise abortion.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph after the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission lost an appeal over the legality of abortion law here last week, the South Belfast MLA said "an absence of organised violence has not provided rights for women".

She said: "I would like to pay tribute to those women who have given their personal testimonies to the Supreme Court, and in a Westminster debate this week, on how the archaic abortion law in Northern Ireland has detrimentally impacted on their lives by forcing them to travel, making a difficult situation even more harrowing by lack of healthcare treatment at home.

"It is disgraceful that traumatised women have to lay their souls bare so they can attempt to personalise their denial of basic human rights.

"Each woman who laid out her most private horror made it clear: when women talk about the abortions they could not have in Northern Ireland they tell the story of the physical and emotional devastation that comes with living in a body that you are prevented from making fundamental decisions about.

"These women deserve a public State apology for the indignity and inhumanity shown to them.

"What these stories expose is the level of misogyny in this society which is palpable, and sits at odds with British and Irish societies east and south of us.

"Fifty years post-Civil Rights, the ethno-sectarian landscape is improved, while the gender landscape remains fixed.

"The toxic masculinity found in most 'normal societies' is doubly layered in Northern Ireland; we live in an armed patriarchy. That's what the peace process and subsequent sectarian carve-up has delivered. Should we call it progress when women are no longer at the back of the bus, but are thrown under it? Women still lack access to equality, human rights, bodily autonomy and reproductive healthcare."

Her comments come after Prime Minister Theresa May finally broke her silence on the issue, telling reporters travelling with her to the G7 summit in Quebec: "I believe that a woman should be able to access safe, legal abortion."

Her support for abortion is at odds with the stance of the DUP, and last night the party's East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said while Mrs May was entitled to her opinion, abortion law was a devolved matter that should be decided by the people and politicians here.

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