Skip to main content
Amnesty International UK
Log in

Open letter to Northern Ireland Secretary of State

Image shows activists in front of Stormont holding signs that say DECRIMINALISE. At the top right, the amnesty candle. In highlighted pink, yellow text reads "3 years on: abortion in northern ireland", and underneath a ticked box with "Abortion decriminalised", and under it, an unticked circled box "Services established"
Abortion is a human right. Call on the secretary of state to establish abortion healthcare in Northern Ireland.



Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Chris Heaton Harris


Dear Secretary of State,


Today marks three years since abortion was decriminalised in Northern Ireland, and yet commissioned abortion services are still not set up in the region.


We urge you to establish these without further delay – we cannot continue to wait.


The continued lack of abortion provision is unacceptable and causing harm every day. Women, girls and pregnant people in need of this time sensitive and vital health-care are suffering - left without the local support our new pro-choice law promised three years ago.  

People are still being forced to travel and make distressing journeys to access abortion. In 2020/21, 161 women and girls had to board a plane to England for abortion care. These journeys should long be a thing of the past.

Without commissioning and the necessary funding and resourcing, health trusts will struggle to meet the needs of people seeking abortions. Abortion provision will remain in a fragile state with access inconsistent across the various health trust areas.

At a time when we are seeing deeply concerning rollbacks on reproductive rights in other countries like the US, we cannot forget that people in the UK are being denied their rights too.


The UK government must set up abortion services in Northern Ireland and show that choice is respected and protected, not only in law but in practice.


People in need of abortion simply cannot afford to keep waiting. No more feet dragging, no more failure. This healthcare must be made immediately available to all who need it.




Grainne Teggart, Deputy Programme Director Northern Ireland, AIUK
Olivia Colman, , Amnesty International UK Ambassador

Bronagh Waugh, Actor

Deborah Frances-White, , Amnesty International UK Ambassador

Juliet Stevenson, Amnesty International UK Ambassador

Kaiser Chiefs, Amnesty International UK Ambassadors

Vick Hope, Amnesty International UK Ambassador

Dr Edward Morris, President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’

Karen Murray, Director, Northern Ireland Royal College of Midwives

Rita Devlin, Director Northern Ireland, Royal College of Nursing

Clare Murphy, Chief Executive, BPAS

Dr Jonathan Lord, Medical Director, MSI Reproductive Choices UK

Aaron Flaherty, Chief Executive, NUPAS

Dr Eveane Cubitt, Northern Ireland Chair, Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health

Dr Ralph Roberts, Chair, Northern Ireland Abortion and Contraception Taskforce

Dr Laura McLaughlin, Doctors for Choice NI

Ruairi Rowan, Director of Advocacy and Policy, Informing Choices NI

Bethany Moore, Alliance for Choice Derry

Emma Campbell and Naomi O’Connor, Co-Chairs, Alliance for Choice


Learn more about our campaign here 



About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
View latest posts