Changes to Northern Ireland’s abortion regulations came into effect on 1st April. Following legislative changes by Westminster when Stormont was not functioning as a devolved government, terminations can now be carried out in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy without restriction. These changes are very welcome and are the result of years of campaigning by activists, including members of the Socialist Party and ROSA. While we celebrate this victory, we have to recognise we have not yet reached our aim of ensuring that pregnant people have full bodily autonomy, which includes being able to freely access abortion services through the NHS in Northern Ireland without restriction.
Women and men around the world will mark 8 March 2020 as International Women’s Day, with demonstrations, marches and celebrations. The run-up to this occasion presents an important opportunity to examine its history and discuss the necessary next steps in the fight for women’s liberation.
The decriminalisation of abortion has been won through struggle, not simply handed down by benevolent MPs. The politicians were forced into action after a light was shone on the denial of reproductive rights in the North. It was the actions of pro-choice activists that were key to making this happen.
Westminster continues to refuse to act in the face of growing pressure, particularly since the historic victory of the ‘repeal’ referendum in the South last year. Amendments and bills that have been brought on this issue have been continuously delayed.