women in Northern Ireland protest restrictive abortion laws

More than 64,900 people had signed the petition by Wednesday.
Photo: Women protesting restrictive abortion laws in Northern Ireland.

LONDON: Twenty-eight women dragged 28 suitcases across Westminster bridge in London this week to protest restrictive abortion laws in Northern Ireland and demand the expansion of abortion rights. 

The number of protesters was not random: The 28 demonstrators symbolised “the 28 women who are forced to make the lonely journey to England to access abortion services every week”.Grainne Teggart, the Northern Ireland campaign manager for Amnesty International, said on Wednesday.

 The women — including members of the British Parliament and TV stars — marched on Tuesday to the office of Karen Bradley, a Conservative member of Parliament and the Northern Ireland secretary in Westminster. 

Each of the protesters carried a suitcase — the first four containing sheets of paper with the 62,000 names of people who had signed a petition asking the British government to take action to change Northern Ireland’s abortion law.

 “Each paper looked like a flight ticket,” said Teggart. 

More than 64,900 people had signed the petition by Wednesday. 

 Northern Ireland has been under intense pressure to alter its abortion laws, which ban the procedure in nearly all cases, since Ireland voted to repeal its own restrictive abortion ban in May.

 Britain legalised abortion in 1967, but that measure does not extend to Northern Ireland partly because of the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which exercise some individual powers while remaining part of the UK.
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