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Health minister must put in place safe legal abortion services – Sheerin

4 June, 2020

Sinn Féin MLA Emma Sheerin has said that the DUP cannot be allowed to manipulate Tuesday night’s motion to cynically try to prevent access to women’s healthcare.

She said the Health Minister must now put in place a proper, safe, legal service to which women are now legally entitled.

Emma Sheerin said:

“This motion was put forward by the DUP as a Trojan Horse. In devising it, they were well aware that if passed it could be cynically used at Westminster to undermine the entirety of abortion regulations and service provision. However, the motion only referenced a small part of the legislation.

“After decades of travelling in secrecy or resorting to desperate and unsafe measures to end crisis pregnancies, the majority of women requiring an abortion can now access it locally. The outpouring of relief and the end to these traumatic and unnecessary journeys was palpable in October 2019. 

“Telling women that they are to be refused the healthcare they deserve would be unthinkable. Removing safe and legal abortion healthcare does not prevent abortion. It prevents safe abortion and places women’s lives at risk. That is something which Sinn Féin cannot countenance.

“We would have liked to see abortion services being legislated for across Ireland. We welcome 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.

“The end game for the DUP is to prevent any and all regulations and service provision being provided for. If this matter were to be returned to the Assembly, it is no secret that the DUP – who are opposed to abortion in any circumstances – would never legislate for the healthcare that women need and were denied for decades. They would instead force women to travel and ignore the trauma visited upon them by the woefully inadequate and archaic abortion law that existed previously.

"We urge everyone involved to recognise the current failures in provision and to ensure that the regulations as set out by the legislation are implemented and properly funded by the Department of Health to provide a fully commissioned service across all five health Trusts.

“The Health Minister has abdicated his responsibilities on this issue, failing to give clear direction to the Trusts. The Health Minister must now put in place a proper, safe, legal service to which women are now legally entitled.” 

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