Abortion decriminalised in Northern Ireland
Nearly 4 years ago, decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland was achieved. Yet commissioned abortion services are still not set up in the region. There can be no more feet dragging, no more failure. We need services urgently established.
The rights and choices of women, girls, and people who can become pregnant must be respected and protected - not only in law, but in practice. Delays to services are unacceptable and cause harm every day.
Between 2020 and 2021, 161 women and girls had to board a plane to England for abortion care. These distressing journeys should long be a thing of the past. Abortion provision must be established without further delay – the time is now.
Access to safe abortion is a human right ✊
This is a critical time for abortion rights. Governments must meet their human rights obligations on abortion.
We won't stop fighting. Retweet to spread the word 💚 pic.twitter.com/W7JtmKM1fk
— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) September 28, 2022
What are we doing about it?
Our movement will not give up. Decriminalisation was achieved, now we want full access. We’re campaigning to have abortion services that respect and protect choice established. We’re also researching and monitoring the barriers to accessing abortion services in policy and practice.
Alongside artists like Olivia Colman, Bronagh Waugh, Deborah Frances-White, Juliet Stevenson, Kaiser Chiefs and Vick Hope, we have sent an open letter to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Read about the current regulations below
In October 2019 abortion decriminalised and became lawful in Northern Ireland. A new framework for lawful abortion services came into effect on 31 March 2020.
When will a termination be allowed?
Up to 12 weeks:
Up to 24 weeks:
When continuing the pregnancy would risk mental or physical injury to the woman or girl that is greater than the risk of terminating the pregnancy.
No time limit:
When there is substantial impairment to the fetus, including when death is likely before, during or shortly after birth.
When there is risk of death or serious permanent injury to the woman or girl:
- Greater than the risk of termination, or
- When necessary to prevent serious physical or mental harm, including immediate necessity such as during birth
Who can perform a termination?
Only medical professionals i.e. registered doctors, nurses and midwives.
Professionals may conscientiously object to performing a termination, unless it’s necessary to save the pregnant woman or girl’s life or prevent serious permanent physical or mental injury.
Where can a termination take place?
- Your GP
- A Health and Social Care (HSC) premises
- At home, for the second stage of early termination, via abortion pills only
Buying abortion pills online
Those using abortion pills purchased online will not be prosecuted. If you need medical assistance following their use, health professionals are no longer under a duty to report their patients’ use of abortion pills.
How we got here
Explore the timeline below to learn more about the abortion regime in Northern Ireland and what we have done to help bring the law in line with international human rights standards, including the decriminalisation of abortion.
75% think Northern Ireland abortion law should change November 2018