Northern Irish women to access abortions in the Republic

01 Sep 2018

Health Minister for the Republic of Ireland, Simon Harris, has announced that women from Northern Ireland will be able to obtain abortions in the Republic of Ireland. Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland in all cases except where there is a serious risk to the mental or physical health of the mother.

Following the referendum in May, new abortion legislation in the Republic of Ireland is to be introduced which will legalise abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy from 1st January 2019.

Since the referendum in Ireland in May, there has been increased pressure to amend Northern Ireland's strict abortion laws and in July, more than 170 politicians (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, Stormont MLAs and Irish politicians) composed a letter urging the British government to introduce reforms as a matter of urgency, stating that it was an issue of women's human rights and also about respecting the Good Friday Agreement.

Pro life organisations have responded to the announcement by the Health Minister. Liam Gibson, development officer for SPUC in Northern Ireland, commented saying: “Along with Malta, Northern Ireland is now the only place in Europe which recognises the right to life before birth. Yet the international abortion lobby is prepared to work night and day to stamp out the last areas of resistance to the killing of unborn children.....The result of the recent referendum means Northern Ireland is now isolated and under pressure to change our laws. But most of that pressure is from the abortion lobby outside the Province.....We are facing a twin- pronged attack from pro- abortionists in Westminster who are seeking to override devolution and impose decriminalisation on Northern Ireland through the House of Commons while the Stormont Assembly – which has legal authority over abortion law –  is in limbo. At the same time the Dublin government, which went to court to ensure people north of the border couldn’t vote in the referendum, says it will be happy to kill our children when its abortion law comes into effect. Simon Harris, who claimed to be pro- life when he was first elected, has no credibility. He has zero concern for the women of Northern Ireland or their babies.”  (As quoted by SPUC)

Bernie Smyth from Precious Life spoke out saying: "Once again we have a pro- abortion politician attacking Northern Ireland's democratic process. It is totally outrageous and demonstrates a shocking level of utter contempt for democracy". She also clarified that "all genuine medical treatment" is already available for pregnant women in Northern Ireland and added that the Assembly has rejected "any change to our pro- life laws....The Republic's government has no jurisdiction in Northern Ireland. No other government should have the right to dictate our laws as abortion is a devolved issue. A recent ruling by the UK Supreme Court also emphasised that abortion is a devolved issue for our Assembly." (As quoted by Irish News) stories/2018/august/ireland- abortion- contagion- spreads- north move- to- allow- northern- ireland- women- access- to- abortion- services- in- republic- confirmed- 1403217/