Timeline: Abortion campaign has gone on for decades

Sarah Ewart on the way out of the High Court in Belfast with her mother Jane and Amnesty's Grainne Teggart. Picture by Hugh Russell.

The 1967 Abortion Act is introduced but does not extend to Northern Ireland.

May 2001: The Family Planning Association goes to the High Court in the first case if its kind to fight for abortion provision for women in Northern Ireland.

October 2012: Marie Stopes opens a clinic opened in Belfast, offering medical abortions in early pregnancy. The clinic, which was the target of anti abortion protests, closed in December 2017.

October 2013: Sarah Ewart goes public, travelling to England with BBC journalist Stephen Nolan for an abortion after doctors told her that her child would not survive outside the womb.

October 2014: Justice Minister David Ford announced he is launching a public consultation for a change in legislation to allow an abortion in circumstances where there is no prospect of the foetus being delivered and having a viable life.

November 2015: Belfast High Court declares that Northern Ireland's abortion law is incompatible under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

April 2016: A 21-year-old woman who bought pills on the internet to induce a miscarriage after failing to raise enough money to travel to England for a termination was given a suspended prison sentence at Belfast Crown Court.

June 2017: Ministers announce funding for Northern Irish women to have abortions in England and Wales following an amendment put forward by the Labour MP Stella Creasy.

 Abortions will be decriminalised in the north later this month

April 2018: A high-level report which government delayed releasing for two years reveals that the most senior doctor in Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride, believes current laws on fatal foetal abnormality place an "unacceptable burden" on women's health and wellbeing.

The report recommends that "that a change is made to abortion law to provide for termination of pregnancy where the abnormality is of such a nature as to be likely to cause death either before birth, during birth or in the early period after birth".

May 2018: The Republic of Ireland votes to repeal the Eighth Amendment which bans abortion in all circumstances.

January 1, 2019: Terminations up to 12 weeks become legal in the Republic.

June 2019: Figures show more than 1,000 women and girls travelled from the north to England and Wales for an abortion last year - an increase of almost 200 on 2017

July 2019: MPs vote to decriminalise abortions in the north after an amendment to the Northern Ireland Bill is passed, terminations are set to be decriminalised from October 22 unless a power-sharing assembly returns at Stormont.

September 2019: Following a silent march at Stormont the leaders of Ireland's four main churches jointly express concerns about "almost unregulated" abortion being imposed at Westminster.

October 3, 2019: The High Court in Belfast rules that Northern Ireland's strict abortion law breaches the UK's human rights commitments - following a case taken by Sarah Ewart.

October 8, 2019: The government publishes guidance for healthcare professionals on abortion law in Northern Ireland in preparation for the change in legislation later this month.


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