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Abortion: Northern Ireland

Question for Northern Ireland Office

UIN HL214, tabled on 17 October 2019

To ask Her Majesty's Government what legal frameworks will be in place between 22 October 2019 and 31 March 2020 to protect health professionals in Northern Ireland with a conscientious objection to abortion.

Answered on

28 October 2019

The health and safety of women and girls, and clarity and certainty for the medical profession, is at the forefront of the Government’s approach in complying with the legal duty under section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019.

As the duty has now come into effect, there have been some immediate changes to the law in Northern Ireland. We do not expect there to be any additional services available ahead of the new legal framework being in place by 31 March 2020. It is important that we get the legal framework right and are confident that service provision in Northern Ireland can meet women and girls’ needs.

In the meantime, women and girls resident in Northern Ireland will be able to continue to access services in England, with all costs of the procedure, including travel and, where needed, accommodation, being paid for from 22 October 2019.

Healthcare professionals who have a conscientious objection should follow guidance from their professional body. We recognise that this is a sensitive issue, and consideration is being given to providing for conscientious objection in the new legal framework for access to abortion in Northern Ireland.

The Government will be shortly consulting on this proposed framework.