theguardian.com, Wednesday 25 November 2015, by Carmen Fishwick
Northern Ireland’s harsh abortion laws have the most severe criminal penelties in Europe. Share your experiences of accessing abortion in the region with us.
Women and girls looking to access abortion in Northern Ireland face harsh restrictions and the most severe criminal penalities in Europe, putting lives at risk and forcing women to travel in order to seek abortion or send for abortion pills in the post.
Only in extremely restricted circumstances, where there is a risk to a pregnant woman’s life or a real and serious risk of long-term damage to her physical or mental health, is abortion permitted. The 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland and all the main local political parties are opposed to liberalising the strict laws.
Just 23 legal abortions were carried out in Northern Ireland on the NHS in 2013-14, yet it is estimated that 2,000 Northern Irish women travel to English hospitals and clinics every year to access the medical procedure.
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