Emma Campbell describes the long fight for reproductive rights in Northern Ireland
March 24, 2021
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.
A human rights group says the government’s inaction has left a health care void in a country where the procedure was legalized in 2019, but remains largely unavailable.
By Megan Specia
Jan. 11, 2021
A human rights group in Northern Ireland is taking legal action against the government over its failure to provide abortion access, the group announced on Monday, highlighting the continuing struggle for safe abortions more than a year after the procedure was legalized in the region.
The organization, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, cited deep concerns about a lack of abortion services, which it says has left a health care void for many women and girls.
Amid COVID-19 pandemic, a landmark week for abortion care access in Northern Ireland
April 11, 2020
Belfast — After a chaotic week that saw outcry from pro-choice campaigners and abortion providers on both sides of the Irish Sea, Northern Ireland moved to ensure abortion services will be available during the pandemic. In a statement issued to the media on Thursday, April 9, the region’s Department of Health said medical professionals were now permitted to “terminate pregnancies lawfully.” The statement also claimed that the rollout of abortion services, which were meant to have been legally available beginning March 31, had been impacted by the pandemic and “the urgent need to focus resources on preparing the health and social care system for the surge in cases.”
The government’s decision comes after a tumultuous two weeks in which abortion services were supposed to be operational yet remained inaccessible through Northern Ireland’s health service.
Northern Ireland confirms abortions can now be carried out
Services should have been available since 31 March, prompting claims of stalling
Thu 9 Apr 2020
Northern Ireland authorities confirmed on Thursday that abortions can now be carried out in the province’s hospitals, following threatened legal action by pro-choice groups.
Health officials signalled that terminations could go ahead after allegations that local anti-choice politicians were stalling implementation of a ruling that provided for services to be introduced by the end of March.
Northern Irish women told to sail to England for abortions despite pandemic
Amanda Ferguson, Reuters
April 7, 2020
BELFAST — Northern Irish women seeking an abortion have been told they must take an 8-hour ferry to England despite the lockdown, as the regional government resists pressure to offer abortions locally and the coronavirus pandemic stops flights.
Abortion was decriminalized in Northern Ireland last year after the British parliament bypassed opposition from socially conservative Christian politicians in Belfast to bring the region into line with the rest of the United Kingdom, where abortion has been legal for decades.
Two Northern Ireland women to get abortion costs compensation
European court orders UK government to reimburse mother and daughter forced to travel to England for abortion
Thu 19 Dec 2019
A mother and daughter from Northern Ireland who were forced to travel to England for an abortion are to be compensated by the government over their costs.
The European court of human rights has instructed the government to reimburse the women for the cost of travel and the termination at a private English clinic seven years ago.
CAMPAIGNERS WELCOME HISTORIC DAY AS ABORTION DECRIMINALISED IN NORTHERN IRELAND
21st October 2019
For immediate release
Today is a landmark moment for reproductive rights in Northern Ireland, and for women and girls who have been living under one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. At midnight tonight, abortion will be decriminalised, and we will be one step closer to free, safe, legal and local abortion in Northern Ireland. Women and girls in Northern Ireland have been left behind for too long - and today marks a historic step in bringing this cruel injustice to an end.
In July 2019, the UK Parliament voted in favour of an amendment proposed by Stella Creasy MP and supported by pro-choice groups across the UK. Section 9 of the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Bill 2019 passed by 332-99 votes in the House of Commons and 182-37 in the House of Lords. Section 9 states that decriminalisation of abortion would take effect if no Executive was formed in Northern Ireland by October 21st.
Northern Ireland Is About to Reform Its Abortion Law – Now What?
If its government doesn't reconvene by October 21st, its draconian law will be tossed out the window. Activists are counting down the days.
by Mary McGill
18 October 2019
With just a few days to go until October 21st, it is almost certain that Northern Ireland’s draconian law against abortion will be reformed. The political situation in Northern Ireland is complex. The region’s devolved government has been suspended for over two years. For campaigners fighting for equal rights issues like abortion, this stalemate has been frustrating.
That is, until July of this year, when Westminster issued a ruling paving the way for the liberalisation of the region’s abortion legislation, provided Northern Ireland’s government does not reconvene before October 21st. Although there are fears that Boris Johnson will use abortion in Northern Ireland as a bargaining tactic in Brexit negotiations, at this late stage reform is unlikely to be derailed
Climate of Fear: When Part of a Country Bans Abortion
By Ceylan Yeginsu
Aug. 10, 2019
BELFAST — It was one of the warmest days of the year, and Ciara was wearing a T-shirt to try to blend in with the vacationers at Belfast airport. But as soon as she boarded her flight to London, she noticed people staring at the dark purple bruises on her arm and the baby bump that stretched the fabric of her shirt.
“I’m sure some of it was paranoia, but I could tell from the way some folks looked at me that they figured out I was traveling for an abortion,” she said. Ciara, who is 32 and has two children, has asked to be identified in this article only by a childhood nickname, to protect her from her abusive former partner, who she said had threatened to kill her if she terminated the pregnancy.
Doctors can lead case to change Northern Ireland’s highly restrictive abortion laws
BMJ 2019; 365
Published 28 June 2019
The trusted voices of doctors and medical staff are the key to changing abortion laws to give women in Northern Ireland choice, according to a panel of experts.
The panel—which met in Belfast on 23 June to discuss access to safe abortions—shared their experiences of caring for women and seeing the impact of restrictive abortion laws.