WE call out government’s double standards on sexual and reproductive health rights
Published 11 July 2017
Today the Women’s Equality Party called out the UK government’s double standards as Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel hosted a Family Planning Summit with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Whilst Patel reaffirmed her government’s commitment to sexual and reproductive health rights overseas, the WEP highlighted the government’s refusal to extend that same commitment to reproductive health rights for Northern Irish women and girls on UK shores.
Women’s Equality Party leader Sophie Walker explained: “Until full access to sexual and reproductive health rights is a reality for women in every nation of the UK, there will be a glaring double standard in our government’s approach. Whilst we welcome unreservedly the UK’s leadership on family planning on the world stage, it is vital that these same politicians do not abandon their commitments to uphold the human rights of women on these shores.”
“Last week our UK and national governments committed to funding abortion services for Northern Irish women in England, Wales and Scotland — but this must be a first step and not the end of the road for abortion reform. Women are still criminalised and denied access to fundamental reproductive health rights, and the UK government is shirking its responsibility to uphold human rights in every part of the UK.”
An estimated 1000 Northern Irish women travel to England each year to access abortion services, but that is only the tip of the iceberg; many women are unable to make the journey due to financial constraints, lack of information or because of abusive partners.
Walker continued, “the Secretary of State for International Development made a clear connection today between cyclical poverty and reproductive health rights. The government must now extend this logic and compassion to the Northern Irish women who cannot afford to travel to other parts of the UK to access termination services, and are forced to carry crisis pregnancies to term.”
“Priti Patel today said that giving women and girls the chance to own their bodies, means they can own their future. It is time to lead by example and make this a truly global commitment.”