Abortion rights groups including Family Planning Association, Marie Stopes, and BPAS will also be joining Amnesty’s march.

Two stars of the hit TV show Derry Girls are heading to the English capital next week to demand changes to Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.

Nicola Coughlan, who plays Clare Devlin in the Channel 4 series, and Siobhán McSweeney, who plays Sister Michael, will join 26 other women in a symbolic protest next week at London's Westminster. 

Amnesty International, which is organising the event, said the 28 women marching over Westminster Bridge in central London carrying suitcases represents the number of women who travel outside Northern Ireland each week to procure a medical abortion. 

Each suitcase will contain names of 62,000 people who are calling for changes, signatures that the participants will bring to the Northern Ireland Office at Whitehall.

"Very proud to be involved with Amnesty UK's campaign alongside Siobhan McSweeney next week, and to stand in solidarity with our sister in Northern Ireland," Coughlan wrote on Twitter, alongside the #NowForNI hashtag.

Abortion is legal under certain circumstances in England and Wales and Scotland based on the Abortion Act 1967, then one of the most liberal abortion laws in Europe when it was enacted.

However, Britain’s relatively liberal 1967 abortion Act was never extended to the North, where abortion is illegal in most circumstances, applied under a law made in 1861. 

This law bans abortion in almost all circumstances, including rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality. It provides for severe penalties including life imprisonment.

Earlier this year, a report emerged saying that over 900 women travelled from the North to England over 12 months to obtain abortions. 

Ahead of the demonstration set to take place next Tuesday, Coughlan referenced the recent liberalisation of the abortion laws in the Republic, following 2018’s historic referendum to repeal the constitutional ban on terminations, the Eighth Amendment.

“It was such a proud moment when we Repealed the Eighth in Ireland but it’s now time our sisters in Northern Ireland get the change so desperately overdue,” she said.

“Let’s do this for women everywhere. Women who have abortions are not criminals, it’s time the law stopped treating them as such.”

McSweeney said the region had been “neglected for too long”. 

“It makes me so angry that women there are being denied bodily autonomy and health care services available to others in the rest of the UK and Ireland, they have reproductive rights too,” she said.

“I’ll be here fighting alongside Amnesty for Northern Ireland until the degrading law there is changed.

“It has to happen soon.”

Details of the march can be found here

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