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DUP cannot be allowed to block access to modern, compassionate healthcare - Sheerin

2 June, 2020

Sinn Féin MLA Emma Sheerin has said the DUP cannot be allowed to block the introduction of modern, compassionate and rights compliant healthcare for women in the north. 

Speaking during today's debate in the Assembly, the Sinn Féin equality spokesperson said: 

“The motion as put forward by the DUP is quite obviously an attempt to undermine the entirety of the abortion provision which has thus far been put into law in the north of Ireland. The amendment put forward by my own party would see a refining of the law, to offer abortion services in the north mirrored to as they are currently in the 26 counties.

“Sinn Féin supports the right of women to access a termination in instances of fatal foetal abnormalities, for victims of sexual crime, and for anyone whose life or health, including mental health, is in danger.

“In terms of timeframes, our party voted to allow the gestational period to be limited according to the best available medical guidance, and in the 26 counties this was set at 12 weeks without specific indication, and up to 24 weeks in the context of risk to health.

“Ultimately, this is about healthcare. That people in crisis situations still cannot receive treatment at home isn’t good enough.

“We in Sinn Féin would have liked to see abortion services delivered across Ireland by legislators here in Ireland. 

“We welcomed an end to the criminalisation of women, something that punished people in an already difficult position, adding untold trauma to the lives of thousands of women who lived in fear of being found out.

"I have written to the minister for health asking that the regulations as set out by the British government are implemented, and properly funded by the department of health locally, so as to see a fully commissioned service across all five trusts.

“The Health Minister has abdicated his responsibilities on this issue, failing to give clear direction to the health trusts. This leaves women in limbo. Sinn Féin want to see an end to this, we want to see a proper, safe, legal service for anyone in crisis, whatever their story.

“To serve disabled people properly, we need to build infrastructure which is totally accessible. We need to have inclusivity, to properly service Section 75 obligations across all public sector bodies, to raise awareness of the issues that face less able people in their daily lives.

“Sinn Féin do not believe that allowing abortions in the cases of non-fatal foetal abnormalities serves this aim. Our party position is one which calls for a compassionate and reasonable approach to healthcare.”  

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