Ireland’s landslide vote to repeal the 8th amendment has highlighted the injustice faced by women in Northern Ireland. Soon, Northern Irish women will be the only people in all of Britain and Ireland who cannot access safe, legal abortion care in their own country. Women living in Northern Ireland must either travel to England for help, or use abortion medication purchased online, illegally – and risk up to life imprisonment.
Northern Ireland’s draconian abortion law has been repeatedly criticised – most recently by the UN Human Rights Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which called it a “grave and systematic” violation of rights, and in a scathing Supreme Court judgement which described it as “untenable” and in need of “radical reconsideration”.
We want all women in Northern Ireland to have access to safe abortion care at home. We campaign for legal reform to allow abortion in Northern Ireland, while also working to ensure women can access the abortion care they need right now, including a 24-hour helpline for those who have used illegal online abortion pills and need confidential medical advice. Support our work – join us.
Anti-abortion activism targeted at clinics in the UK has increased in recent years. On a daily basis, women and clinic staff are being filmed, followed and intimidated by anti-abortion protesters outside clinics. Police inaction is emboldening anti-abortion activists and the situation is deteriorating. We must act now before it worsens any further.
We are calling on the government to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics to protect women and staff from intimidation and harassment. 2017 saw the first UK buffer zone introduced by Ealing council, but this is already facing a legal challenge. We need the government to intervene, to find a solution on a national level.
Become a friend of bpas and help us to protect women and clinic staff from this harassment.
The wrisk project is a collaboration of organisations including Birthrights, Antenatal Results and Choices, Pregnancy Sickness Support, Big Birthas and NCT, funded by the Wellcome trust, which aims to understand and improve the communication of risk messages in pregnancy.
Women who are planning a pregnancy or who are pregnant receive many public health messages that are intended to guide their decision making. For example, they receive advice about what to eat, drink, how much they should weigh, and what medications they should or shouldn’t take. These messages are intended to improve outcomes for babies and mothers, but there is growing concern messages do not always fully reflect or explain the evidence base underpinning them, and that negotiating the risk landscape can sometimes feel confusing, overwhelming, and disempowering. This may negatively affect women’s experiences of pregnancy and motherhood, and be exacerbated by a wider culture of parenting that tends to blame mothers for all less-than-ideal outcomes in their children.
The project will take a woman-centred approach – starting with an exploration of women’s experiences of risk messaging – with the aim of understanding and improving the communication of risk relating to pregnancy. Lessons drawn from women’s experiences will be considered by a group of stakeholders, including scientists, public health and risk communication specialists, women’s advocacy groups, and specialists in women’s sexual and reproductive health. This work will lead to the development of recommendations for respectful risk communication in pregnancy.
Emergency contraception is a safe, essential medication, to which women need swift and affordable access should their usual method fail or be forgotten. However, it is not always easy to access via the NHS (especially since it is very time-sensitive) and yet purchasing it from pharmacies requires a mandatory – but clinically unnecessary – consultation, which puts women off, and drives up the price.
We want to see emergency contraception available to buy without a consultation unless a woman requests it – as it is sold in other European countries, the US and North America. Join us to make that happen.
My Body My Life is a public engagement project that seeks to address the stigma around abortion by bringing real stories of abortion into the open. The project is co-led by the Open University & the University of Oxford, with contributions from bpas. These stories show how easily an unplanned pregnancy can become part of women’s lives, how different women have made their decision about having an abortion, and what the process was like for them.
Under a law passed in 1861, any woman across the UK who ends a pregnancy without legal authorisation from two doctors can face up to life imprisonment. This includes women in desperate situations who resort to buying pills online. bpas launched the We Trust Women campaign calling for abortion to be decriminalised and regulated in exactly the same way as all other medical procedures.
In the wake of Ireland’s abortion referendum, there is renewed pressure on Westminster to decriminalise abortion across the UK, in line with recommendations from the UN Human Rights Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). This would allow all UK countries – including Northern Ireland – to implement their own abortion frameworks.
Be a part of the campaign to bring our abortion law in to the twenty-first century. Join us.