POLITICAL CORNER: Refusing to reform Northern Ireland’s abortions law is a step backwards for the nation

Photo courtesy of The Times of London

Written by Winona Young, Staff Writer

The United Kingdom courts recently dismissed the appeal to reform abortion rights for Northern Ireland. This is an immense disservice to women. It’s plain and simple: Women need the right to terminate their own pregnancies. Anything less robs a woman’s agency over her own body.

A member of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), Les Allamby, argued that the current laws in place were “incompatible” to human rights. Allamby is right. Dismissing a woman’s agency over her body affects her life path financially, physically, and emotionally. The Northern Irish Assembly has been at a hiatus regarding this decision for too long.

Northern Ireland is the only place in the British Isles where abortion is only allowed for certain cases. It is only permitted if a woman is physically or mentally threatened by the fetus. This is as if to say that a woman can only gain control over her body if she is severely in harm’s way.

Since it is the only case in the British Isles, UK Prime Minister Theresa May needs to be proactive with her voice and advocate for these women’s rights. Simply referencing women’s’ rights to abortion on the way to the G7 summit is great talk. But right now, it’s only that — talk.

The Northern Irish Assembly along with the UK haven’t followed countless European countries’ approaches to abortion. They have not recognised that over 66% of the Irish Republic’s voters voted to repeal their constitution’s old prohibition of abortion. It’s up to those in power like Theresa May to help push abortion reform for Northern Ireland. Otherwise, generations of women of Northern Ireland will suffer.