October 22nd saw a historic change in Northern Ireland after both abortion and same-sex marriage became legal. The sudden change happened after the 3-year Stormont standstill led to some mainland UK laws coming into effect in Northern Ireland.
In the absence of a functioning governmental administration in Northern Ireland, the House of Commons voted to amend the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill to decriminalise abortion and introduce same-sex civil marriage.
The new legislation for abortion services are due to be available for free by 31st March 2020. Same-Sex marriage is due to be available by Valentines day 2020 (Feb 14th).
The existing abortion laws in Northern Ireland allow for the procedure if a woman’s life is at risk or if long term or permanent physical or mental damage is a threat.
Reactions from politicians, public figures and activists have been polarising, with many speaking about their relief or remorse on the subject.
Pro-Life campaigner and former UCD Student’s Union President Katie Ascough said online: “#DarkestDay for Northern Ireland as preborn children lose all explicit rights until they are deemed capable of being born alive. […] My heart breaks for Northern Ireland. […] Abortion is never the answer. There are other options and there are always people who will help. #bothlivesmatter”
Green Party politician Claire Bailey said that women would “now have equality across these islands” as would the “LGBT community.”
DUP leader Arlene Foster said it was a “shameful” day and swore that her party “will do everything in our conscience to protect the lives of the unborn.”
Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland campaign manager said: “[This is] the beginning of a new era for Northern Ireland – one in which we’re free from oppressive laws that have policed our bodies and healthcare.”
Conor Capplis – Editor