The law concerning abortion in Northern Ireland has changed a lot in recent years.
After years of campaigning by grassroots feminist groups here, the United Nations undertook an investigation into how the almost total ban on abortion was affecting people. They interviewed many individuals who had travelled or taken illegal abortion pills, as well as speaking to politicians, human rights bodies, religious organisations and campaigners on both sides of the debate. Their report claimed that the situation was causing ‘grave and systemic abuses of rights’ and as the UK government holds human rights duties for Northern Ireland it was calling on them to act.
As the NI Executive was not operating for 3 years, the legislation required to implement the United Nations recommendations was passed through Westminster in 2019. Abortion was taken out of the criminal law, removing the threat of proseuction. Regulations were then passed in 2020 that defined things like the gestational limits on abortion, where abortion services can take place etc. Since then some services have been running in each Health Trust but the Department for Health has not fully commissioned and allocated funding for the full range of services that are required under the new regulations. This is due to be rectified in the autumn of 2021 as the UK government has intervened to make sure progress is made.
If you need an abortion it is important to know that there are safe, legal services available and people who can help you access them. Alliance for Choice have summarised the different options that are available as well as a list of support services on their website.
The Central Access point for early medical abortion (with pills) is run by Informing Choices NI and you can call them to book an appointment at your local NHS provider on 028 9031 6100