What do people in Northern Ireland think about abortion?

Abortion law in Northern Ireland. Time for change.

Politicians and anti-choice groups peddle myths that the majority of people in Northern Ireland don’t want abortion to be available.

This is wrong.

Surveys show again and again most Northern Irish people and health professionals agree the laws need to change. And so does the United Nations.

What the people say

  • A Belfast Telegraph poll in November 2012 said 46% of people supported liberalisation of the law.

  • A survey carried out by FPA in Northern Ireland in 2008 found nearly two-thirds (62%) of Northern Irish people polled said that abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest.

What professionals want

The majority of gynaecologists in Northern Ireland don't support the current abortion law. An FPA survey found:

  • 57% would support liberalising the current abortion law.
  • More than two-thirds (76%) agree that abortion should be legal on grounds of fetal abnormality.

Asked under what conditions they would be prepared to personally carry out abortions:

  • 68% agree abortion should be legal when the woman has been raped.
  • 73% wanted free abortions for Northern Ireland women forced to travel overseas for the procedure.
  • 51% supported major abortion charities being licensed to carry out abortions in Northern Ireland.

More about FPA's survey and the results.

What the United Nations says

In 2009, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, recommended that the abortion law in Northern Ireland should be brought into line with the rest of the UK. It stated:

“The Committee calls upon the State party to amend the abortion law of Northern Ireland to bring it in line with the 1967 Abortion Act with a view to preventing clandestine and unsafe abortions in cases of rape, incest or foetal abnormality.”

More about the United Nations' statement.

Beverly Turner“How can we suffer such injustices to women and force them into such terrible situations? Women in Northern Ireland must have the same rights to abortion as us.”

TV presenter Beverley Turner