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ver the past few days, the BBC's Nolan Show has uncovered the horrifying story of Sarah Ewart, who travelled to England to terminate her unviable pregnancy.

Sarah and her family were put through unnecessary pain and difficulties to access these services and once again a personal tragedy has vividly highlighted the need for access to safe, legal and free abortions for women in Northern Ireland.

Sarah's foetus had anencephaly, which means that the brain and skull didn't develop. This makes life beyond a few hours after birth unviable and death before birth more likely. On top of that it makes delivery more painful and dangerous.

The 1967 Act that governs abortions in the UK, has never been extended to Northern Ireland because politicians on both sides refused to deal with this issue.

To make matters worse, the draft guidelines for abortions are “not fit for purpose” according to the Royal College of Nurses. This meant Sarah was forced to decide between the trauma of continuing with an unviable pregnancy or travelling to London at her own expense to terminate the pregnancy.


=No restrictions on the current, very limited right to abortion in Northern Ireland =Withdraw the guidelines which intimidate women and health workers =Extend the 1967 Act to the North =For free, legal and safe abortions on the NHS for women =Real, secular sex education and access to free contraception =Fight austerity - for decent jobs, housing, benefits and genuine choice =Free, high quality child care and support for parents =Build a campaign of activists, trade unionists and socialist for abortion rights and women's rights in Northern Ireland

For Workers’ Unity!


Abortion – a reality in Northern Ireland Every year over 1000 women make that journey from Northern Ireland to England or Wales to access abortion services.

These women choose to have an abortion for various reason including fatal foetal abnormalities, economic constraints, mental health or because they are victims of rape or do not feel they are able to go ahead with a pregnancy.

In all cases, it should be the right of the woman to decide what happens to her body. Medical reasons, such as in Sarah's case should be immediately legislated for to allow abortions here. However, the Socialist Party stands firmly for the right of any women to have control over her own body.

Women in Northern Ireland don't have this right. Our ability to choose is constricted by the sectarian parties in the Assembly, united in their anti-choice platform.

They have not only refused to extend the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland but are further restricting women's rights and our ability to decide what happens to our own bodies through the imposition of massive austerity. This includes housing and other benefit cuts, lower wages, job losses and lack of high quality affordable state-run childcare services. Campaigning for choice also means campaigning for the provision of real sex education in schools, colleges and to adults as well as the ready availability of free contraception.

Abortion & women's rights under capitalism The abortion rights issue is fundamentally linked to the question of women's rights.

We still live in an anti-woman society in which women don't have equal rights and women experience sexism on a daily basis. The pay gap continues to exist, cuts in public services disproportionately affect women and we don't even have the control over our own bodies.

The Socialist Party fights for the improvement of women's rights and for real choice, including access to abortion services but also to publicly run, free childcare facilities, jobs, financial security and the right to a work/life/family balance. However, fighting for real control over our bodies and lives requires a fight against this oppressive system.



Legally, abortions cannot be carried out in Northern Ireland on the grounds of foetal abnormality. Only in cases where there is permanent or long-term damage to the woman's mental or physical health is an abortion legal. The guidelines published by the Ministry of Justice have made things even less clear and serve only to increase fears of prosecution for medical staff even in cases in which a termination would be legal.

The legal situation in Northern Ireland is threatening women's health and lives. The guidelines should be scrapped at the 1967 Act extended to the North immediately.


We are a working class party which unites ordinary people, Catholic & Protestant, against the anti-working class, austerity agenda of all the main parties in Stormont. We are opposed to all forms of sectarianism.

We are organised throughout Ireland and work closely with our sister parties in Scotland, England & Wales. We stand for a socialist society where the needs of people & the environment come before the profits of a superwealthy minority.

If you agree with us, then join today and get involved in building the socialist alternative!

Abortion Rights Now!  

Leaflet > October 2013

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