Westminster steps in after Northern Ireland fails to comply with abortion law change – how it happened

April 1, 2021
Claire Pierson

Abortion was decriminalised in Northern Ireland in October 2019. In March the following year, the legal framework was in place to provide terminations. A year later, though, it hasn’t happened. The Department of Health in Northern Ireland hasn’t provided a clear plan to commission permanent abortion services that would ensure provision would be budgeted for and available throughout all of Northern Ireland.

Now Westminster has had to intervene to ensure women in Northern Ireland can access abortion services they are legally entitled to. Abortions can be carried out in all circumstances up to week 12 of pregnancy, until week 24 if continuing the pregnancy would risk injury to the woman’s physical or mental health, and without a time limit in cases of severe or fatal foetal abnormality or risk to the life of the pregnant woman.

Continued: https://theconversation.com/westminster-steps-in-after-northern-ireland-fails-to-comply-with-abortion-law-change-how-it-happened-158239


Call for abortion protest ‘exclusion zones’ in Northern Ireland

By Jayne McCormack, BBC News NI Political Reporter
March 31, 2021

Exclusion zones should be introduced outside sexual health clinics and pregnancy counselling centres in NI to protect staff and women accessing services, a report has said.

Protests and demonstrations would not be allowed within the zones.

Continued: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-56578466


N. Ireland – Abortion: Foster tells NIO to “back off” over abortion services

March 25, 2021

First Minister Arlene Foster has told the NI secretary to "back off" over the issue of providing abortion services in Northern Ireland.

The government has published regulations allowing Brandon Lewis to direct commissioning of the services.

Continued: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-56524269


N. Ireland – Free, safe, legal, local

Emma Campbell describes the long fight for reproductive rights in Northern Ireland

March 24, 2021
Emma Campbell

Northern Ireland has finally emerged from the shadow of a British law that wreaked untold misery on the island of Ireland. On 22 October 2019, tired but buoyed, we celebrated that people were no longer at risk of being charged with a criminal offence for accessing an abortion. After a long struggle, the women of Northern Ireland now have the best abortion law in the UK and Ireland.

Sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act criminalised doctors and abortion seekers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with punishment up to ‘penal servitude for life’. This remained in place until the 1967 Abortion Act allowed abortion to carried out legally in certain circumstances, even if it wasn’t fully decriminalised.

Continued: https://www.redpepper.org.uk/alliance-for-change/


UK government moves to compel Northern Ireland to expand abortion services

By Reuters Staff
Mar 23, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government published legislation on Tuesday to hand it powers to compel Northern Ireland to implement more liberal abortion services, despite opposition from the region’s first minister and health minister.

Britain’s parliament voted in 2019 to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland, allowing terminations without restriction up to 12 weeks and with no time limit in the case of “severe foetal impairment or fatal foetal abnormality”.

Continued: https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-ireland-abortion/uk-government-moves-to-compel-northern-ireland-to-expand-abortion-services-idUSKBN2BF1ZP


N. Ireland – Abortion: New powers not taken lightly, says Brandon Lewis

Published March 23, 2021

The decision to introduce new powers compelling Stormont to implement abortion laws has not been taken lightly, Brandon Lewis has said.

The government has published regulations allowing the NI secretary to direct commissioning of central abortion services in NI.

Continued: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-56485487


UK – Women from poorer backgrounds three times more likely to have abortions

Exclusive: gap between worst-off and wealthiest women has widened during pandemic, British Pregnancy Advisory Service figures show

Tobi Thomas and Jessica Elgot
Tue 23 Mar 2021

Women from the most deprived backgrounds are almost three times more likely to have abortions than women from the wealthiest backgrounds, and the gap has worsened during the pandemic, data suggests.

A Guardian analysis of data provided by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) found that in 2020, women from the most deprived backgrounds accounted for 16.5% of all abortions, and women from the wealthiest backgrounds accounted for 5.9%.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/23/women-from-poorer-backgrounds-three-times-more-likely-to-have-abortions


Abortion in Northern Ireland: at the interface between politics and law

22 March 2021
by Anurag Deb, UK Human Rights Blog

Abortion reform in Northern Ireland has had a fraught history, to say the least. Matters appeared to finally come to a head when in 2019, the UK Parliament enacted the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc.) Act 2019 (2019 Act), which created a duty on the Secretary of State to implement abortion reform by following the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination of Women (CtteEDAW). Nearly two years and two statutory instruments later, Stormont finds itself mired in fresh controversy as long-term abortion facilities in Northern Ireland have yet to be commissioned. So the obvious question arises: what happened?

Continued: https://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2021/03/22/abortion-in-northern-ireland-at-the-interface-between-politics-and-law/


DUP criticises Westminster’s ‘unacceptable’ move on abortion in North

Northern Ireland secretary set to have power to force roll-out of abortion services in region

Sun, Mar 21, 2021

A move to direct the commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland is an “over-reach” of the secretary of state’s powers, the DUP has said.

The British government is set to take legislative action at Westminster this week to give Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis the powers to force Stormont’s Department of Health to roll out abortion services across the region.

Continued: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/dup-criticises-westminster-s-unacceptable-move-on-abortion-in-north-1.4516045


Northern Ireland’s women won abortion rights but its politicians won’t accept that

After Stormont voted to restrict abortion rights, Westminster is intervening to secure the services women are legally entitled to

Susan McKay
20 Mar 2021

Northern Ireland is no country for young women. Out of 87 members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) at Stormont last week, just 12 voted to allow women the right to choose abortion in line with international human rights standards. These are built into a law smuggled into NI while the institutions in Belfast were collapsed in acrimony in 2019, following an inspiring collective effort by local feminists and the British Labour MP Stella Creasy. Jubilant, proud, relieved and tearful, women stood at Stormont with banners that said, simply, “Decriminalised”.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/20/northern-ireland-women-abortion-rights-stormont-westminster