Following this week’s debate in parliament I have today written to Mr Sharma MP to ask him to support the campaign to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland and I have a wide range of co-signatories, if you would like to add your name do get in touch. No woman takes the decision to end a pregnancy lightly and the current situation is putting the health of many vulnerable women at risk.
Dear Mr Sharma
I am writing to you following the historic vote in the Republic of Ireland to repeal the 8th amendment to their constitution; giving their politicians the ability to legislate for abortion rights. This will mean that 2.5 million women in Ireland will now have legal access to abortion in their home country. Abortion is a choice no woman makes lightly. I am sure you will agree that no-one who has read the heart wrenching stories of what happens when abortion is not legally accessible could remain unmoved.
However as you know, a million women living in Northern Ireland still face some of the most restrictive laws in the world including denying abortion in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality.
Women already living in the most vulnerable circumstances in Northern Ireland, in the United Kingdom, who cannot travel, could face life imprisonment when taking the only option left available to them; ordering pills online, not knowing if they are safe and often taking them alone and without access to counselling or other health care.
In February a UN Committee (CEDAW) described this as ‘cruel, inhumane and degrading’. Since there has been no functioning Executive or Assembly in Northern Ireland for over 18 months and there is unlikely to be one anytime soon it falls to Westminster and to MPs to rectify this.
Following the cross-party debate and support for a change in the law earlier this week I hope you will agree that the time is now right to ensure that equal rights are afforded to UK citizens whichever part of the United Kingdom they live. I would appreciate your views on this matter, and whether or not you will consider supporting this campaign.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Cllr Ellie Emberson
Cllr Jo Lovelock, Leader of Reading Borough Council
Cllr Deborah Edwards, Mayor of Reading
Jan Bastable, Chair of Unite South East Women’s Committee
Cllr Liz Terry
Cllr Rose Williams
Cllr Debs Absolom
Cllr Sophia James
Glenn Dennis, former Deputy Mayor of Reading
Cllr John Ennis
Cllr Graeme Hoskin
Cllr Tony Jones
Cllr John Ennis
Cllr Sarah Hacker
Cllr Adele Barnett-Ward
Cllr Karen Rowland