Sunday 25 September 2016

'Treated like criminals' - 270,000-signature abortion petition given to Health Minister

Tomás Heneghan

Published 14/07/2016 | 18:54

Amnesty Ireland’s Executive Director Colm O’Gorman with Minister Simon Harris and Sorcha Tunney, Amnesty International My Body My Rights Campaigns Officer
Amnesty Ireland’s Executive Director Colm O’Gorman with Minister Simon Harris and Sorcha Tunney, Amnesty International My Body My Rights Campaigns Officer

The Minister for Health has accepted a 270,000-signature petition from Amnesty International calling for Irish abortion reform.

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The petition was presented to Health Minister Simon Harris on Thursday as part of Amnesty’s ‘My Body, My Rights’ campaign.

It carries the signatures of 276,861 global activists and calls on Ireland to amend abortion laws in line with recent recommendations from a number of United Nations committees.

Speaking about the presentation, Amnesty Ireland’s Executive Director Colm O’Gorman said the petition was giving voice to the collective concerns of over 270,000 people worldwide.

“Today, we are presenting Minister Harris with the collective voices of 276,861 people who are calling for urgent reform of our abortion laws.

“Women and girls in Ireland who need abortions are treated like criminals, stigmatised and forced to travel abroad, which takes a serious toll on their mental and physical health.

“The international human rights framework is clear. The Eighth Amendment must be repealed and replaced with a legal and healthcare framework that respects the rights of women and girls.”

Mr O’Gorman said Amnesty felt “encouraged” to see what he called “an increased sense of urgency” from the government in relation to the issue.

He also said Amnesty “tentatively welcomed” the proposed Citizens’ Assembly, however he said the group should have a clear timeframe and include an “unequivocal commitment” to follow the recommendations through.

The ‘My Body, My Rights’ campaign was launched by Amnesty International in June 2015 and focused on the abortion laws of Ireland, Burkina Faso, El Salvador and the Maghreb region of North Africa.

Despite the end of the global campaign, Amnesty International Ireland has pledged to continue its campaigning activities in support of the repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which provides for an equal right to life for a pregnant woman and the unborn.

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