Courtney Robinson our Labour Alternative candidate for East Belfast – has sent a scathing reply to an appeal for support from anti-abortion group Precious Life. An email from Bernadette Smyth asked if Labour Alternative would “defend the right to life of all unborn children in Northern Ireland”. Along with over 200 others, Ms Robinson signed a public letter admitting to helping women procure abortion pills.
Ms Robinson has described Precious Life’s call for harsher punishment for a woman recently sentenced for using abortion pills as “shameful” and condemned “harassment” of women outside clinics by pro-life activists. She has also hit out at groups like Precious Life being allowed to “emotionally manipulate” young people in schools.
Ms Robinson attacked anti-abortion MLAs who “have little concern for the wellbeing of a child once it has been born”, saying that austerity policies have left over 100,000 children living in poverty in Northern Ireland.
Her reply is as follows:
Labour Alternative supports a woman’s right to choose. We support access to free, safe and legal abortion and demand the immediate extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. Along with 200 others, I have signed a letter publicly stating that I have helped women procure abortion pills.
Labour Alternative agrees with the High Court’s assessment that our 150-year-old abortion legislation contravenes women’s human rights. It is a disgrace that women continue to be dragged through the same court system and criminalised for accessing pills which the World Health Organisation regards as an essential medication. It is shameful that your organisation called for a harsher sentence for the vulnerable, young woman at the centre of the recent judgment.
Banning abortion does not prevent abortion. It simply moves it elsewhere or drives it underground. Over 1,000 women from Northern Ireland travel to Britain every year to have terminations. The ban creates a class divide in access to this medical procedure and puts women’s lives and health at risk.
Labour Alternative condemns the harassment of women seeking medical advice and care outside the Marie Stopes Clinic and Family Planning clinics carried out by so-called ‘pro-life’ activists. I have protested the fact that your organisation – which represents a minority in society – continues to be allowed to emotionally manipulate young people in schools with its propaganda, without any space for pro-choice views to be heard.
The MLAs from across the political spectrum who support your agenda at Stormont have little concern for the wellbeing of a child once it has been born. Their austerity policies have left over 100,000 children here in poverty. They are slashing the jobs and benefits which allow parents to provide for their children, while closing schools and attacking education. Labour Alternative calls for investment in affordable childcare, decent jobs, benefits and public services so that woman have a real choice as to whether or not to have children.
Labour Alternative will continue to work with the pro-choice movement and the trade unions to demand women’s right to control their own bodies.
Labour Alternative – East Belfast