(GENEVA)–In a 332 to 99 vote, the UK Parliament has just adopted provisions calling for the decriminalization of abortion in Northern Ireland.
“This is a major step towards the advancement of reproductive rights in Northern Ireland,” said Leah Hoctor, Regional Director for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Laws that criminalize and prohibit abortion care harm women’s health and violate their human rights. We hope that today’s vote means that women and girls in Northern Ireland will soon be able to legally access the health care they need at home.” In England, Wales, and Scotland abortion is permitted on broad social circumstances under the 1967 Abortion Act; however, in Northern Ireland abortion remains prohibited in almost all circumstances and is subject to criminal prosecution. Today, the UK parliament voted on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage, calling for abortion to be decriminalized in Northern Ireland. Today’s vote is in line with the ongoing global trend in favor of the legalization and decriminalization of abortion. Over the past 18 months multiple European countries have undertaken important reforms to guarantee access to abortion care. Earlier this year Iceland enacted a new law permitting abortion on request up to 22 weeks, while North Macedonia removed mandatory counseling and waiting periods. These are just some examples of multiple progressive advancements throughout the continent.