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Abortion: Northern Ireland

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Baroness O'Loan Baroness O'Loan Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether women in Northern Ireland considering an abortion between 22 October 2019 and 31 March 2020 will be offered counselling equivalent to that offered to women in England and Wales.

Photo of Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Northern Ireland Executive was not restored by 21 October 2019, so section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 has now come into force, providing for the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland in relation to sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. The United Kingdom Government is now under a duty to bring forward regulations to introduce a new legal framework for abortion in Northern Ireland by 31 March 2020 and has published guidance for healthcare professionals in Northern Ireland on abortion law for the period 22 October 2019 to 31 March 2020. This makes clear that abortion services are not expected to be routinely available in Northern Ireland before 31 March 2020.

The UK Government-funded Central Booking System (CBS) has been in operation since March 2018 as a single point of contact for women in Northern Ireland to access abortion care in England. The CBS, and abortion care provided under the scheme, will continue to offer the same service and care package to women from Northern Ireland between 22 October 2019 and 31 March 2020. During this period women from Northern Ireland will be able to have all travel and, where needed, accommodation paid for without any means testing. The package of care offered to women from Northern Ireland is equivalent to the package of care offered to women from England and includes a consultation including impartial information/advice, and where needed, counselling with an abortion provider in England.

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