Northern Ireland obtaining abortion pills through the post and through the air
“At the age of 71, I handed myself in to police for helping women in the UK to get an abortion,” Diana King told the Independent on 31 May. “There is a civic duty to obey a just law, but there is a moral duty to disobey an unjust law… In the 1970s, I was working for Belfast Welfare Department as a social worker. The only abortions poorer people with crisis pregnancies could afford then were on the backstreets and they were very dangerous. Better-off women could afford to travel and pay for access to legal abortion in Britain.”That remains the case in 2016, when travel, abortion and accommodation costs to facilitate a termination total up to £2,000. In short, poor women who want a choice don’t have one. That is why the introduction of… abortion pills on the internet, made available five years ago, was so significant. It made abortion during the first nine weeks of pregnancy affordable for poorer women in Northern Ireland for the first time – £60, or free…”People in Northern Ireland are outraged that women coping as best they can with a pregnancy which already presents a crisis for them are then being dragged before our courts. They are being threatened with life imprisonment under our archaic 1861 Offences against the Person Act… We have one law for the rich and another for the poor.”So, along with two other Derry women, at the age of 71, I decided enough was enough: I handed myself in to police for being involved in the procuring of abortion pills for women who cannot afford to travel and are too terrified to have them delivered to their home address, as a protest against the law.”We are three of many. There are hundreds of us out there breaking the existing law in Northern Ireland.”Then on 21 June, there was direct-action political theatre at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, where the Women on Web abortion drone delivered two sets of abortion pills to Northern Ireland.After the drone landed, two women took the pills. Courtney Robinson of Labour Alternative, one of the woman who swallowed the pills, said: “Information whether I am pregnant or not is protected by my right to privacy. The right to safe abortion should be a private matter but by criminalizing it, it has instead become a political issue. I have the human right to access and use these medicines.”Rita Harrold from Rosa said: “…We sent the pills across the border today as an act of solidarity with women in NI who are currently facing prosecutions. This is outrageous. Today’s action is a clear message of intent – North and South we will build an unstoppable movement of women and young people until women have the right to control their own bodies.”That afternoon, there was a protest in front of the Court of Appeal in Belfast, where the ruling by the High Court, that Northern Ireland’s abortion law breaches the European Convention on Human Rights, was on appeal.
SOURCE: The Independent, 29 May 2016 ; PHOTO: Women on Waves