Abortion And 21st Century United Kingdom


Recently it has become apparent that two women in Northern Ireland are at the centre of a controversy surrounding abortion and abortion rights within the UK.

This April, a women from Northern Ireland has been sentenced to three months in prison for buying abortion tablets online, and aborting her fetus.

You may be thinking- ‘hang on a minute, I thought abortion was legal in the UK’; well you would be wrong. Northern Ireland has not repealed legislation and is exempt from the 1967 Abortion Act that made it legal for women to have abortions. This is not the first time Northern Ireland has come under attack for this legislation, as demonstrations are held year on year in order to put pressure on the government to legalise abortion. In Northern Ireland an abortion can carry up to life imprisonment- even if the woman has been raped or the fetus is severely disabled, highlighting just how backward this part of the UK is.

As you can probably tell, I am pro choice in the arguments over abortion. I believe that every women should have a choice, and that it would be unfair to bring a child into the world who is not wanted, or was conceived through inhumane circumstances such as rape. We often get told that it would be ‘killing a life’, however, that depends on how you define life. Should we define life as beginning the minute you are conceived, or the minute you are born? Questions like this influence the argument heavily and within Northern Ireland, a country which has a strong Catholic community, often they take the view that life begins the minute you are conceived. Whilst there is nothing wrong with believing this at all, Northern Ireland has to remember that not everyone holds this view. It is unfair for women not to have a choice.

Women’s rights have come a long way in the past 100 years, and to someone like myself who believes in the equality of all human beings, the fact that Northern Ireland can prosecute women who have simply made a choice is debilitating towards the greater goal of equality for all. The fact that in Northern Ireland you can be prosecuted for choosing to abort a fetus, who might have suffered if it had been born, is absolutely atrocious. If a fetus has no chance of surviving outside the womb, yet you are made to carry this child because of an abortion law is inhumane. I can’t begin to imagine the plight that some women have faced in Northern Ireland. Those women who have been raped and are not allowed to abort their fetus because of this law must be in a heart breaking situation.

With regards to the woman who has been convicted, this story is truly heart breaking and highlights the plight many Northern Irish women face as they struggle to come to terms with their unwanted pregnancies. Many women who have unwanted pregnancies are forced to pay for their flights to the UK, which can be expensive, in order to terminate the pregnancy. This isn’t even the saddest part of this; many women who do pay for their flights to the UK can be rejected by the NHS for their termination, meaning many women look online to buy ‘abortion tablets’, of which I dread to think what could possibly be in those tablets. In addition, many women cannot afford flights to other parts of the UK, such as teenagers, meaning that many teens are suffering alone and cannot have the life or pregnancy in which they deserve. I feel for all of these women who are in this situation at the moment and I cannot express at how disgusted I am that the Northern Irish government have not legalised abortion. They are putting women at risk, fetus’s at risk, and are damaging the reputation of the United Kingdom as a democratic entity. Something needs to be done about this and fast, as it is wrong that we are still prosecuting women in the 21st Century for a choice which they should be allowed to have.

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I am a second year Modern History and Politics student.

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