This is why #NowForNI is trending on social media

If you spotted #NowForNI on social media today you are probably wondering what the hashtag is in reference to.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 2:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th April 2019, 3:23 pm
#NowForNI began trending shortly after the committee published the report.
#NowForNI began trending shortly after the committee published the report.

The hashtag started trending on Twitter after the Women and Equalities Committee published their report on abortion law in Northern Ireland on Thursday morning.

The report states that since the collapse of devolution at Stormont in 2017 there have been several key developments concerning abortion in Northern Ireland.

The developments identified by the committee in the report include a UN Committee finding ‘grave’ and ‘systematic’ breaches of women’s rights, the UK Supreme Court identifying a breach of human rights in relation to cases of fatal foetal abnormality or where the pregnancy has resulted from rape or incest, introduction of UK Government funding for women and girls to access free abortion services in England, evidence that significant numbers of abortion pills purchased online are being sent to Northern Ireland and a lack of follow-up to a report on fatal foetal abnormality commissioned by Northern Ireland ministers.

The political vacuum in Northern Ireland means the aforementioned developments have not and are not being suitably addressed, found the committee.

The select committee is now calling on the UK Government to set out a timetable within the next six months to address these developments to prevent a victim of rape or incest having to go to court.

Committee Chair Maria Miller M.P. said the current situation concerning abortion law in Northern Ireland was "creating confusion".

“We heard evidence from a wide range of witnesses both in Northern Ireland – in Belfast, Antrim and Derry/Londonderry - and in Westminster," she said.

#NowForNI began trending shortly after the committee published the report.

"These included doctors, nurses and midwives, lawyers, Ministers and officials, organisations representing a range of views, and women who spoke to us about their own experiences.

"The lack of clarity about the current legal situation is creating confusion, fear and inequality. Our report sets out action which the Government must take to address this.”

The report also highlighted uncertainty about the legality of doctors in Northern Ireland referring patients to the UK Government funded scheme providing free abortions in England.

The committee also said "the Attorney General for Northern Ireland should publish human rights guidance stating that it will rarely be in the public interest to prosecute survivors of rape and incest, and professionals treating them, who have not reported the offence to the police."

Maria Miller M.P. added: "The government must address these concerns by issuing human rights guidance.”

The Christian Action Research and Education said: "It is unacceptable for the committee to make recommendations on Northern Ireland's abortion law when none of its members represent Northern Ireland constituencies."

Bernadette Smyth, Director of Northern Ireland based pro-life group, Precious Life, described the report as "extreme" and "biased".

"This extreme, biased pro-abortion report has shamefully disregarded the vast majority of the submissions from people and organisations in Northern Ireland that stated they do not wish to see a change in our pro-life laws," said Mrs. Smyth.

The following M.P.s are members of the Women and Equalities Committee: Mrs Maria Miller (Chair); Conservative Tonia Antoniazzi (Labour); Sarah Champion (Labour); Angela Crawley (Scottish National Party); Philip Davies (Conservative); Vicky Ford (Conservative); Eddie Hughes (Conservative); Jess Phillips (Labour); Mr Gavin Shuker (Change UK – The Independent Group); Tulip Siddiq (Labour) and Anna Soubry (Change UK – The Independent Group).