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From this day we can say we in Northern Ireland trust women, says Bradshaw

Paula Bradshaw MLA has said today is a “significant day for trusting women” after a DUP Private Member’s Bill seeking to restrict women’s right to choose was defeated in the Assembly.

The South Belfast MLA stated: “This was a highly sensitive Bill but ultimately it contained one clause other than its commencement date, and that clause was about restricting access to abortion.

“The Bill ran contrary to international human rights standards, contrary to the existing law of Northern Ireland, and most of all contrary to the interests of women. It would have created not just further blockage but also further disparity in women’s ability to access abortion services.

“This is the first time the devolved legislature in Northern Ireland has voted clearly in favour of the woman’s right to choose, recognising pregnant women in conjunction with health professionals are the best people to determine whether and how to proceed with pregnancy.

“I would like to thank all those organisations and individuals who came to me and my office with support and advice, particularly at the outset when those opposing the Bill were so small in number. Their advocacy has made a huge difference. Together, we made a democratic case before the Assembly from March onwards, and it has resulted in a Bill which initially enjoyed comfortable support being overturned. This is a great example of how democratic persuasion and rational argument can win the day.

“This should not stop us either from pursuing many of the issues around disability rights and stigmatisation which were and continue to be legitimately raised by campaigners. Ultimately, however, this was about trying to restrict the woman’s right to choose and it is right that this attempt was defeated.

“This is a remarkable day. It is the day from which we can now say clearly we in Northern Ireland trust women.”