Government issues guidance on changes to abortion law

Guidance has been issued to health professionals working in Northern Ireland.

Guidance for healthcare professionals on abortion law in Northern Ireland has been published by the government ahead of changes due to take place if there is no executive restored by October 21.

The new guidelines, which will cover the period from October 22 to March 31, 2020 state no criminal charges can be brought against those who have an abortion, or against health care professionals who provide and assist in an abortion.

However, here are no plans for additional services to be routinely available in the North before March 31, 2020.

Women in Northern Ireland will still have to access services under the existing travel scheme.


There were 12 abortions performed in Northern Ireland in 2017/18 under the

existing law, during the same period 1,053 women travelled to England from Northern Ireland for an abortion procedure funded by the UK Government.

The scheme will remain in place until at least March 31, 2020 by which time it is expected that service provision in Northern Ireland will be available.

A public consultation on a proposed legal framework relating to abortion law will also take place sometime this year.

The government says it is "imperative that health and social care professionals understand these changes and their duties under the law, if the duty comes into effect and the law changes".

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