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The NI Women’s Policy Group support and welcome the introduction of safe access zones in Northern Ireland. The introduction of these zones through this Bill are necessary in order to fully implement CEDAW’s recommendation to: “protect women from harassment from anti-abortion protestors by investigating complaints, prosecuting and punishing perpetrators”. The adoption of such provisions is a legally binding duty on the NI Secretary of State in domestic law. The WPG believes that safe, accessible and unhindered access to services should be guaranteed to any person seeking an abortion and is fundamental to ensuring women’s free and equal access to healthcare.

The WPG hope that every MLA on the Health Committee, regardless of their individual positions on abortion, will support this Bill on the basis of respecting the fundamental human rights of women, as recognised and protected by international human rights law. At its core, this Bill is about facilitating women’s access to healthcare, and should be considered no different to facilitating their access to other forms of healthcare.

Read the full response here.