Pro-choice group plans to distribute abortion pills in Northern Ireland

By @chelean on
A badge with a message of 'Ta' in Irish language meaning 'Yes' in English is left with flowers at a memorial to Savita Halappanavar a day after an Abortion Referendum to liberalise abortion laws was passed by popular vote, in Dublin, Ireland May 27, 2018.
A badge with a message of 'Ta' in Irish language meaning 'Yes' in English is left with flowers at a memorial to Savita Halappanavar a day after an Abortion Referendum to liberalise abortion laws was passed by popular vote, in Dublin, Ireland May 27, 2018. Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne

A pro-choice group is planning to distribute abortion pills in Northern Ireland following Ireland’s repeal of the 8th Amendment. The Reproductive Rights Against Oppression, Sexism & Austerity (ROSA) members will offer the pills while touring an “abortion bus” in Belfast, Derry, Lisburn and Cookstown.

The pills are illegal in Northern Ireland, but ROSA member Courtney Robinson said they would defy any attempt to take the pills off them.

“We are taking this action to highlight the fact that, after this weekend, Northern Ireland is the only place in Europe apart from Malta where there is a near-total ban on abortion,” she was quoted by the Guardian as saying.

Following the win of the yes vote in Ireland to eliminate the abortion ban in the country, activists in Northern Ireland have been pressuring UK Prime Minister Theresa May to bring the country into line with the rest of the UK. The United Kingdom’s Abortion Act 1967 legalised abortions by registered practitioners in all of Great Britain except for Northern Ireland, where abortion is illegal unless it is necessary to save the life of the mother.

May, however, didn’t seem to be in a hurry to change Northern Ireland’s abortion laws. She said the issue should be left for the country to decide. British authorities have been taking major decisions in the country since the collapse of power-sharing administration in Northern Ireland in January 2017.

Anti-abortion organisation Both Lives Matter is calling for the arrest of pro-choice activists should they be found distributing abortion pills. Co-founder Dawn McAvoy said police should “uphold the law, arrest those behind this stunt and seize the pills.”

“The attorney general has been very vocal in the recent past in defending the arrest of people who import these illegal pills in Northern Ireland, and he should continue to fulfil his role in defending the law,” she said, referring to John Larkin.

Northern Ireland has one of the strictest abortion laws in the world. Up until Saturday, Ireland shared the same view. However, a referendum changed Ireland’s stance, with a majority voting yes to repeal their eighth amendment, which bans abortion in the country.