Over 60 female stars have added their names to the open letter intended for British Prime Minister Theresa May, ahead of a major parliamentary debate on the matter set for Friday, November 23.
New "Doctor Who" Jodie Whittaker, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, and Olivia Colman have also signed the letter, which reads: "This Friday, women across the U.K. will be waiting with anxiety and fear as their reproductive rights are debated in Parliament. We're counting on you (Theresa May) and your government to stand with women and decriminalise abortion."
"Give us choice and control over our own bodies. Show women from Northern Ireland that you won't stand for them being governed by one of the harshest and cruellest abortion laws in the world. Show us that you value and champion the rights of all women, no matter which part of the U.K. they're from."
OPEN LETTER: Kate Beckinsale, Claire Foy, Jodie Whittaker and Olivia Colman call on Theresa May to change ‘cruel’ Northern Ireland abortion lawhttps://t.co/j2LLu2WSaA— News From Amnesty (@NewsFromAmnesty) 21 November 2018
A new Abortion Bill is published today in Parliament and supported by @RCObsGyn@TheBMA@MidwivesRCM The Faculty for Sexual and Reproductive Health @AmnestyUK@bpas@fpa@MarieStopes#NowforNIpic.twitter.com/pKJ0TkTtkv— Diana Johnson (@DianaJohnsonMP) 21 November 2018
At present, an abortion is only permitted in Northern Ireland if a woman's life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health if she gives birth.
The 1967 Abortion Act, which governs the rest of the U.K., was not extended to Northern Ireland.
The proposed new Private Members' Bill will decriminalise terminations in the country.
As well as the open letter to the Prime Minister, almost 50,000 people have signed a petition calling for the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland, which is opposed by the country's largest political party, the Democratic Unionist Party.
Politician Diana Johnson, who has brought forward the decriminalisation Bill, tells Press Association, "The situation in Northern Ireland is grave and urgent. My decriminalisation Bill has support from almost every U.K. political party and will be in Parliament on Friday. The Government must give it the time it needs to progress."
"Women need this change. Abortion is a healthcare and human rights issue. It's time it was treated as such."