October 2019 marked the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland through an act of the British Parliament during the prolonged suspension of the NI devolved government. The act was the culmination of concerted efforts by long-standing pro-choice activists in Northern Ireland, human rights organisations, healthcare professionals and MPs in Westminster, led by Stella Creasy who was able to garner cross-party support for policy change.
The reinstatement of devolved institutions paved the way for abortion law reform and the introduction of regulations for local abortion access in Northern Ireland. However, the road to abortion healthcare has been fraught with delays due to ongoing political deadlock and ideological resistance.
The extraordinary circumstances brought about by the spread of Covid-19 compromised yet again the prospects for reproductive rights and abortion healthcare availability. As a result, a new fight for reproductive rights has recently ensued in the wake of travel restrictions and lockdown measures. After yet another wave of mobilization led by pro-choice activists and healthcare professionals, abortion services have become available at last in Northern Ireland.
On Wednesday 22 of April we hosted a timely webinar titled ‘The long road to reproductive rights in Northern Ireland: What next?
We were joined to discuss the recent developments for reproductive rights by Emma Campbell and Naomi Connor, co-chairs of Alliance for Choice, the grassroots organisation at the core of pro-choice activism in NI, and Dr Fiona Bloomer, a major expert in reproductive justice and abortion policy from Ulster University.
Having been at forefront of research and pro-choice activism, our speakers shared information on current provisions and highlighted outstanding challenges to the full realization of reproductive justice in Northern Ireland.
The conversation also offered an opportunity to situate existing obstacles to abortion access in Northern Ireland in relation to wider concerns over reproductive justice. Namely, we considered the ambivalent implications the current public health responses to Covid-19 might have on reproductive rights worldwide and reflected on the attacks on abortion provision experienced globally.
Alliance for Choice continues to mobilise to ensure access to reproductive rights for all women and pregnant people. Make sure to keep up to date with their work on social media. You can also support their activities through their fundraising campaign.
Below is the recording of our webinar: