In a moving protest, women have marched on Westminster calling for an end to the criminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland.

Actors from Channel 4’s TV show Derry Girls joined a group of female MPs to protest the fact that abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland. Actors Siobhan McSweeney and Nicola Coughlan made up the group of 28 women, a number which represents women who leave Northern Irland for England and Wales each week to have a legal abortion.

The women carried suitcases that contained sheets of paper with the names of 62,000 people who signed a petition calling for the decriminalisation of abortion in the last remaining nation of the UK where it remains illegal.

Coughlan, who plays Clare Devlin in Derry Girls, told The Guardian :

Women are being treated like criminals in their own country. I’ve had friends who have had to make this journey, it feels very personal as well.

McSweeney, who plays Sister Michael, told the paper:

It’s a sorry state of affairs when somebody from the telly has to tell [politicians] how to do their job. They have been neglecting their duty.

Karin Smyth, Labour’s shadow Northern Ireland minister, also participated in the peaceful protest. SNP MP Hannah Bardell also attended.

The petition was organised by human rights organisation Amnesty International. According to Amnesty, there were 12 abortions in Northern Ireland last year, which were conducted in situations where the mother’s health was put at serious risk from pregnancy. The charity said 65 per cent of adults in Northern Ireland supported the decriminalisation of abortion, but Theresa May has suggested that local politicians in Northern Ireland are best placed to deal with the issue. In 2018, the Republic of Ireland legalised abortion via a referendum vote.

Twitter users were supportive of the protest when photographs appeared online.

Though the protestors were also greeted with a counter protest from those who do not want to see abortion legalised in Northern Ireland.

H/T: Guardian

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