Northern Ireland have decriminalised abortion through the repeal of section 58 and section 59 of the Offenses Against Person Act of 1861. The legal framework will be put in place by March 31st, 2020. The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc.) Act of 2019 has urged the government to implement recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women report, published in 2018. The report recommends that abortions should be legalized when it is a threat to a pregnant woman’s mental or physical health. It also suggests that terminations should be permitted in cases of rape or incest and examples of severe fetal impairment.
Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland campaign manager had this to say about the decriminalisation: “This is a hugely significant moment and the beginning of a new era for Northern Ireland, one in which we’re free from oppressive laws that have policed our bodies and healthcare.”
However, it is not just abortions that have been decriminalized in Northern Ireland as same-sex marriage has also been legalised. The same-sex regulations will be put in place by January 13th. Couples must indicate their intention of marriage 28 days before the big day; therefore, same-sex couples can marry in time for Valentine’s day 2020.