Irish pro-choice meeting in US
LEADING IRISH pro-choice advocates were in Washington DC yesterday in an attempt to raise awareness there about abortion issues in Ireland.
The delegation, which included former deputy leader of the Labour Party, Liz McManus, held a briefing event on Capitol Hill to persuade politicians and influential groups in the United States of a need to change Ireland’s abortion laws.
The delegation highlighted the continued enforcement of a law first enacted in 1861 which criminalised abortion in Ireland and which is still in force today.
It led, they said, to more than 6,000 women every year travelling abroad to secure safe abortion services.
Speakers appealed to those in attendance to use any influence they had on the Government, and the Northern Ireland Executive.
“We wish to remind Americans of the historic commitments to equality and human rights made in the 1998 Belfast Good Friday agreement and highlight the urgent need to apply these principles to women’s reproductive rights,” said Niall Behan, chief executive of the Irish Family Planning Association.
The event was hosted by Congresswomen Louise Slaughter and Diana DeGette and was organised by Catholics for Choice, an US pro-choice organisation.
“We are delighted with the support we have received from politicians, NGOs and activists,” said Audrey Simpson, director of the Family Planning Association in Northern Ireland.
“Access to abortion is a human rights issue for women and girls in the North and South of Ireland, as established by the European Court of Human Rights judgment,” said Liz McManus. “It is also a political challenge for the new Government and I hope they meet it.”