‘RCM comments as bill is launched in Parliament to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland’

on 09 October 2018 Northern Ireland Abortion

A historic bill is today (October 8th) being launched in Parliament to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland.

A group of women from Northern Ireland who have been affected by the near-total ban on abortion in the country have publicly described the pain and distress caused by the current law, and called on MPs to back moves for reform as a cross-party bill to decriminalise abortion is launched in parliament.

A video released today features a young Northern Irish woman, Emma, 18, telling MPs that abortion “is not a devolved issue” while 28 weeks pregnant with a baby with a fatal foetal anomaly. She was denied an abortion in Northern Ireland and felt unable to travel for treatment in England.

Commenting, Suzanne Tyler Executive Director for Services to Members at The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said; “The film released today by BPAS is heart-breaking and shows the human cost of bad legislation. It’s a film with pleas from women, that we should not be watching in 2018 and the RCM admires the bravery of those women who have spoken out for the thousands who could not.

“The time is now for Westminster to legislate. The RCM strongly believes that all women should be able to access abortion services without risking prosecution but also that women in Northern Ireland should have access to the same abortion healthcare services that are afforded to women who live in other parts of the UK.

“Furthermore, midwives practising in Northern Ireland have been operating in a climate of fear for many years, as have many other healthcare professionals who still feel unable to refer women to other parts of the UK for abortion services for fear of criminal prosecution.

“The recent abortion referendum  in the Republic of Ireland makes changes to legislation in Northern Ireland  all the more urgent and the RCM hopes this can be achieved quickly, despite the absence of a government in Northern Ireland.

“The RCM stands for trusting women to make informed choices that are right for them and this bill will allow that to happen.”




To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].


The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.