In Northern Ireland, abortion is regulated by outdated legislation, including Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act, 1861. Abortion is only lawful where necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman or where there is a risk of real and serious adverse effects on the woman’s physical or mental health, either long-term or permanent. These are among the most restrictive abortion rules in Europe.
There has been no devolved government in Northern Ireland for over 700 days since the collapse of power sharing in January 2017. Reform of abortion law in the present context requires action by the central UK government in Westminster.
In autumn 2018, the Women and Equalities Committee launched an inquiry on Abortion law in Northern Ireland, to which CAJ responded with a written submission. In this, we argue that the 1998 Good Friday Agreement provides constitutional grounds for Westminster to reform abortion law in NI and that a precedent already exists for doing so.
The full submission is available via this link: CAJ-written-evidence-to-WEC-Inquiry-on-Abortion-Law-in-NI