Abortion and the Law
Until recently most women in the Republic and Northern Ireland could not obtain safe, legal abortion treatment in Ireland – so nearly 4,500 women travelled to the UK for treatment each year.
- Abortion is legal in the UK where BPAS provides quality abortion care up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
- Irish women can travel from Ireland to terminate a pregnancy
- Rape, incest or a diagnosis of foetal anomaly does not entitle women to legal abortion treatment in Ireland.
Women in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland can now get free abortion care and details are below. Women can still choose to 'travel' and pay for their abortion care in the UK.
Republic of Ireland
Following on from the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment, legislation to provide for abortion services in the Republic of Ireland was passed on 13th December 2018. From January 1st 2019, abortion services are provided in Ireland by the HSE, (by GP's in the community or family planning services, maternity units and hospitals).
The HSE provides Abortion care free of charge to women who normally live in Ireland.
The new law allows for abortion in the following circumstances only:
- Up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Women under 9 weeks pregnant are mainly cared for by GPs. Women between 9 and 12 weeks pregnant are cared for in hospital
- Where there is a risk to the life, or serious harm to the health of the pregnant woman. These women will be cared for in a hospital setting.
- Where there is a condition likely to lead to the death of the foetus before or shortly after birth. These women will be cared for in a hospital setting.
The HSE has an unplanned pregnancy support service called My Options to provide information on both ongoing pregnancy, and how to access abortion in Ireland.
In March 2020, the UK Government introduced a new legal framework for abortion services. The Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 allow access to abortions up to 12 weeks gestation (11 weeks + 6 days), without conditionality, to be certified by one medical professional that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twelfth week. Abortions beyond 12 weeks gestation are lawful in specified instances, including when severe fetal impairment and fatal fetal abnormalities are detected.
Informing choices NI provides unbiased pregnancy counselling which includes abortion information. If the gestation of your pregnancy is under 9 weeks and 6 days contact Informing Choices Northern Ireland for treatment in NI. If the gestation of your pregnancy is over 10 weeks, or you cannot be treated locally, you can access free abortion care in England by calling 0333 234 2184 to make a booking.