The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) said today that Northern Ireland is violating women’s rights by restricting their access to abortion.
Unique among the nations that make up the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland allows abortion only when the mother’s life or health is endangered by her pregnancy. As a result, abortion in Northern Ireland is rare. In 2016/17, only 13 abortions were carried out in the country.
“Denial of abortion and criminalisation of abortion amounts to discrimination against women because it is a denial of a service that only women need. And it puts women in horrific situations,” stated CEDAW spokeswoman Ruth Halperin-Kaddari.
She claimed that Northern Ireland’s pro-life stance “constitutes violence against women that may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
The government of the United Kingdom denied the charges, indicating that women of Northern Ireland have access to abortion in the rest of the UK.
The UN report recommended decriminalization of abortion in Northern Ireland, making contraception available, downplaying women’s primary role as mothers, and cracking down on public pro-life witness.
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