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31st May 2018 | Equality, Press Releases, Reproductive Rights

Access to abortion services for Northern Irish residents must be ‘barrier-free’

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The Green Party and the Green Party in Northern Ireland have called on the Government to allow ‘barrier-free’ access to abortion services for residents in Northern Ireland.

In an open letter to Minister for Health Simon Harris, Green Party TD Catherine Martin and Clare Bailey MLA said that access to terminations of pregnancy for Northern Irish residents must be as barrier-free as possible, whether those barriers are administrative, legal, or financial.

We need to make sure that residents in Northern Ireland have access to terminations in the Republic, and that access is as barrier-free as possible. People from Northern Ireland should not be disproportionally burdened administratively, legally, or financially for accessing services here.

Speaking today, Green Party Deputy Leader and TD for Dublin Rathdown Catherine Martin said: “There have already been some concerns expressed about the cost availing of terminations, with figures as high as €300 being mentioned. This needs to be seriously looked at, but while we’re looking at the cost elements, we need to make sure that residents in Northern Ireland have access to terminations in the Republic, and that access is as barrier-free as possible. People from Northern Ireland should not be disproportionally burdened administratively, legally, or financially for accessing services here.

“For decades, Ireland has forced citizens to travel to the UK for access to terminations. Pregnant people in Northern Ireland, at present, will still need to travel to access terminations. By allowing them barrier-free access to terminations in the Republic, we can significantly ease the burden on them, while the campaign to change Northern Irish laws continues.”

The progress made in the Republic of Ireland stands in stark contrast to the situation in Northern Ireland, where abortion is still restricted in the vast majority of cases, with criminal sanctions still in place.

Clare Bailey MLA said: “The progress made in the Republic of Ireland stands in stark contrast to the situation in Northern Ireland, where abortion is still restricted in the vast majority of cases, with criminal sanctions still in place.

The best case scenario would be reform of Northern Ireland’s abortion laws by the Assembly, and caring for our citizens without forcing them to travel, this looks unlikely in the short term.

“While we can all agree that the best case scenario would be reform of Northern Ireland’s abortion laws by the Assembly, and caring for our citizens without forcing them to travel, this looks unlikely in the short term, at least. The UK breaches the rights of women in Northern Ireland by unduly restricting access to abortion. I will continue to work to end this dismal situation.”

A copy of the letter to Simon Harris can be found here.