Offences Against the Person Act 1861

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:39 pm on 5th June 2018.

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Photo of Heidi Allen Heidi Allen Conservative, South Cambridgeshire 4:39 pm, 5th June 2018

This is a hard and emotive topic. Northern Ireland is a devolved Administration, so is it our business? I am a modern, progressive woman and I am proud that this country is my home. As a woman who believes passionately in equality, choice and an individual’s right to determine their own destiny; as a woman elected to be the Member of Parliament for South Cambridgeshire in the 21st century who stood yesterday to support the request from Stella Creasy for this debate, because she is standing up for all the women in the UK; but mostly because as a woman I have been there, I am making it my business.

The Irish referendum result spoke volumes about how people in southern Ireland felt. They wanted change and they voted for it decisively. How can it be that Northern Ireland will soon be the only part of Great Britain and Ireland where terminations are to all intents and purposes outlawed? I was ill when I made the incredibly hard decision to have a termination. I was having seizures every day. I was not able to control my own body, let alone care for a new life. Are people seriously telling me that, in a civilised world, rape, incest or a foetus that is so sadly deformed it could never live are not sufficient grounds for a woman to have the power to decide for herself—that she should not make that decision? No. Enough.

Very suddenly and unexpectedly, we have a window of opportunity before us. Whether we feel that the window has opened as a consequence of the non-functioning of the devolved Administration in Northern Ireland, or because a neighbouring referendum was so close to us and so relevant as to be impossible to ignore, or simply because we feel the glaring light of equality and human rights illuminating the women of Northern Ireland, this has become their moment and they will have my unequivocal support.