After Ireland says Yes to abortion, what next for Northern Ireland?

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Alliance for Choice use #TrustWomen slogan to advocate a change for women in Northern Ireland
The Republic of Ireland voted on Friday to repeal part of its constitution that effectively outlawed abortion.That change will leave Northern Ireland, already out of step with Great Britain, as the only part of either the UK or Ireland where women do not have access to legal abortion.Most women from Northern Ireland, who are seeking an abortion, travel to Britain. Others risk prosecution by going online to buy so-called abortion pills.
Why are NI's abortion laws so different[/img]
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Ruth Foster, a Belfast-born student in her final year at the University of Edinburgh, thinks many people in the rest of the UK are unaware of the legal position in Northern Ireland.
Ruth says at school she was exposed to pro-life sex education that left her and her friends misinformed
She was one of many who spoke out about what she says was misinformation and misconceptions online, and says that momentum must not be lost from the #RepealTheEighth movement.
'Horrifyingly painful'
After the resounding Yes vote on Saturday, one young woman from Northern Ireland decided to speak up about her experience of having an illegal, self-medicated abortion at home several years ago. She hopes her story will help drive momentum for change. As a student recovering from mental health issues, Amy found herself pregnant when her contraception failed. Unable to afford to travel to Britain for a procedure, she resorted to ordering abortion pills online.She kept the ordeal from most of her family, and said the abortion was "horrifyingly painful" to go through at home without medical help or pain relief."I thought, if I tell this, then I can actually show people on a personal level that this is something that happens, and it happens regardless of law," Amy told the BBC. Since Amy had her crisis pregnancy, measures have been implemented to help fund women travelling to Britain for NHS abortions. However, for activists this does not go far enough because it still means women have to travel for the procedures. Saturday's overwhelming Yes result in the Republic of Ireland has galvanised pro-choice groups and activists. Many have said they plan to turn their attention to Northern Ireland's laws next.
Sinn Fein's Michelle O Neill and Mary Lou McDonald are campaigning for change
Several Westminster politicians suggested on Saturday that the government should bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK.
Political resistance
Politicians from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the largest party in Northern Ireland, have spoken out angrily in response. MP Ian Paisley Jnr, tweeted on Saturday that Northern Ireland "should not be bullied into accepting abortion on demand".Another politician from the party, Jim Wells, a former Northern Ireland health minister, said that the result in Ireland was "an extremely worrying development for the protection of the unborn child in Northern Ireland".Mr Wells called on Northern Ireland's anti-abortion movement to "redouble its efforts" to prevent any change of the law there. Emma Campbell, co-chair of abortion rights group Alliance for Choice, insists that the DUP's political stance is out-of-step with the will of most people in Northern Ireland."Poll after poll has shown in the north, much like it did in the south, that between 62-72% people in every one of the polls is in favour of a change to the law," she said."We are being denied our human rights, and especially in the realm of healthcare. It has real mental and physical consequences."Abortions are only allowed in Northern Ireland if a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her physical or mental health.Rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities are not reasons for legal procedures.
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Anna, who lives in Londonderry, found out when she was 20 weeks pregnant in 2010 that her unborn son would die almost immediately after birth. She then had to carry him for a further 12 weeks because of Northern Ireland's restrictive laws."Obviously immediate friends, family and colleagues knew. But other people would ask: 'When's the baby due or what are you having[/img]

'Prolong the agony'
She said she was forced to stop telling the uncomfortable truth after struggling with people's responses. "The hardest thing was knowing your baby was there but you wouldn't get the happy times at the end."I just think it's unfair to expect you to go through all this, and you know, prolong the agony really. It's really not humane."
After Ireland says Yes to abortion, what next for Northern Ireland?


After almost a year and a half without devolved government at Stormont, Grainne Teggart, Northern Ireland campaign manager at Amnesty International, demanded on Saturday that Westminster stop turning a "blind-eye" to the situation."The UK government needs to ensure that no woman on the island of Ireland is left behind, and that women In Northern Ireland can access free, safe and legal abortion at home," she told the BBC.
Grainne Teggart says women in Northern Ireland "can only look on" as other women's rights progress
Amnesty has a petition lobbying the British government for change and it is using the #ItsTime and #NoWomanLeftBehind hashtags to help promote the message. On Saturday, the UK's Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt said the predicted landslide vote gave "hope" to Northern Ireland.Four other politicians who have held the role, Nicky Morgan, Amber Rudd, Justine Greening and Maria Miller, also backed her comments. Whether this renewed momentum will, or even can, lead to concrete intervention on behalf of the UK government remains to be seen, but the renewed pressure has been immediate, especially on social media.
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