'Midwives comment as abortion is decriminalised in Northern Ireland’

By ‘RCM and INMO host joint all-Ireland midwife conference in Armagh’ on 18 October 2019 Midwifery Midwives Abortion Northern Ireland RCM Northern Ireland Director For Northern Ireland

Abortion has been decriminalised Northern Ireland.

Legislation making the changes came into force at midnight.

The government now has until the end of March 2020 to come up with regulations for the provision of abortion services.

The new arrangements mean that women will not be criminalised for seeking an abortion and midwives and other healthcare professionals will not be criminally prosecuted  for supporting, advising or signposting women to abortion services.

Commenting , Karen Murray the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Director for Northern Ireland said;

“From today women in Northern Ireland will now be entitled to access, free, safe and  legal abortion options without fear of being prosecuted and they will now have the same rights as women across the UK and in the Republic of Ireland.

“Importantly, midwives and other healthcare professionals will not be criminally prosecuted for supporting, advising or signposting women to abortion services.

“Until these services are commissioned on March 31st 2020, women in Northern Ireland who request abortion care will be able to access funds to travel to England.

 “For our members whilst conscientious objection for midwives has been identified within the interim guidance the RCM believes the directions should have been more explicit.

“For now midwives and other healthcare professionals continue to have no statutory right to conscientious objection, however the expectation of the NMC code is that if a midwife had a conscientious objection that they would make that known immediately to their employer, colleagues and the woman that they may be caring for at that time.

“We have advised all our members in Northern Ireland that if they have a conscientious objection they must inform their management as soon as possible after October 21st and not wait until a woman arrives to their maternity service for care. This will ensure that maternity service planners have time to roster midwives on who are happy to provide abortion care and women will receive the high quality care they are entitled to.

The RCM will continue working to provide practical support to our members, particularly in relation to how this sits with their professional code of practice.”


To contact the RCM’s Media Relations team call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected]






Notes to editors



About the RCM

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. It provides workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with a broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at