NI Women sold out by Labour on equal access to abortion


The hopes of women living in Northern Ireland for the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act were dashed when an amendment to extend the act brought before Westminster on 22nd October was not debated because of a procedural motion put by Harriet Harman, leader of the House of Commons and the Minister for Women and supported by many New Labour ‘feminist’ MPs.


Harman claimed that, were the vote to go ahead, the House of Lords might reduce the current time limit for abortions despite that fact that voting records show that the Lords has never reversed a House of Commons decision on the issue. Moreover in recent years, the Lords have voted for progressive positions eight times on embryo and abortion issues. The government was happy to allow debates which could have cut the time limit on abortion as low as 12 weeks, but amendments which could have finally got rid of the requirement for two doctors’ permission to get an abortion, and extend abortion rights to the North of Ireland were apparently too risky to consider.

Alliance for Choice NI, a group campaigning for the extension of the abortion act, giving women in NI parity of access to abortion with women in the rest of the UK has voiced its determination to maintain the struggle for equal abortion rights for women living in NI.

“We have not gone away, you know! In a matter of a few weeks we built a vibrant campaign. We have been delighted by the level of support that we have received from the many women (and men) who have: attended our meetings, participated in street events, lobbied MPs, contacted us with supportive messages through the website and all those who have become involved in many other ways.

The opinion polls (such as the one from the Fpa showing that only 20% of people in NI supported the current legal prohibition on abortion), the many discussions in which we have all participated and the coverage in the media have all moved on markedly from previous occasions when the subject of abortion rights has been raised here.

The main Stormont parties should take note that whatever bluster they may come up with in Westminster about their unanimity on the subject of abortion – their policies do not represent the interests of the women of Northern Ireland.”

For more information on Alliance for Choice see

From Workers Solidarity 106, Nov 2008

Northern Issue Southern Issue

Click on one of the thumbnails for an PDF version of the northern or southern edition of Workers Solidarity 106 which can be printed out on eight A4 pages.