Northern Ireland

Timeline: Abortion law in Northern Ireland

Sarah Ewart. Picture by Hugh Russell
Sarah Ewart. Picture by Hugh Russell

:: June 2000 - MLAs vote to oppose extension of 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

:: October 2012 - Protest greets opening of Marie Stopes private clinic offering abortions for first time in north.

:: October 2013 - Sarah Ewart speaks publicly about travelling to England for abortion after fatal foetal diagnosis.

:: April 2015 - Justice Minister David Ford announces plans for limited changes to abortion legislation that will require assembly support.

:: November 2015 - Following challenge by Human Rights Commission, High Court rules that north's abortion legislation breaches human rights law.

:: February 2016 - MLAs reaffirm opposition to legalising abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and rape or incest.

:: November 2016 - Stormont working group on abortion law recommends minor changes.

:: January 2017 - Devolved institutions collapse.

:: February 2018 - UN report says British government has breached women's rights by failing to provide access to abortion services.

:: July 2019 - While Stormont institutions are dormant, Westminster votes overwhelmingly to liberalise north's abortion laws if devolution is not restored.

:: March 2020 - Weeks after restoration of devolution, British government sets out legal framework for abortion services, including terminations up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.

:: April 2020 - Health trusts introduce limited access to abortion but health minister Robin Swann says wider commissioning of services is a matter for whole executive.

:: January 2021 - Human Rights Commission launches legal action against secretary of state, Stormont executive and the Department of Health over delay in commissioning abortion services.

:: March 2021 - British government plans to table new powers forcing Stormont to roll-out abortion services.