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Abortion and the Law

Abortion and the Law

Most women in the Republic and Northern Ireland cannot obtain safe, legal abortion treatment in Ireland – so nearly 4,500 women travel 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
  • Irish women can have information on abortion treatment (if they ask for it in person not over the phone)
  • Rape, incest or a diagnosis of foetal anomaly does not entitle women to legal abortion treatment in Ireland.

Republic of Ireland

Abortion is illegal in the Republic of Ireland unless there is a “real and substantial risk to the life of the mother”, this includes the risk of suicide.

Information about treatment outside Ireland can be given to a pregnant woman during pregnancy counselling by:

  • Crisis pregnancy counselling agencies
  • Individual counsellors
  • GPs and other doctors

Crisis pregnancy agencies are listed here.

CURA and Life will not give information about abortion treatment

Northern Ireland

Abortion is legal in Northern Ireland if continuing the pregnancy “threatens the life of the mother”, or would “adversely affect her mental or physical health”.  The “affect” on mental or physical health must be “real and serious”, and “permanent or long term”.

Abortion is allowed in exceptional circumstances, but it isn’t clear what those circumstances are. Women could face imprisonment if they have an illegal abortion.  Healthcare professionals won’t risk prosecution by carrying out an abortion which may not be legal.  Guidelines to explain the situation are awaited.

Women in Northern Ireland are UK citizens and UK taxpayers, but they can’t have an NHS funded abortion in England. However the Government Equalities Office now fund the cost of treatment, and in the case of hardship may fund some travel expenses

fpa NI provides unbiased pregnancy counselling which includes abortion information.