Why do we call for decriminalisation?

The 1967 Abortion Act was never extended to Northern Ireland.

NUS-USI calls for the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland rather than the extension of the Abortion Act for a number of reasons:

  1. The Abortion Act did not decriminalise abortion in Great Britain. The Act simply provides a legal defence to prosecution under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act for medical professionals who perform abortions.
  2. Section 1 of the Abortion Act requires two medical professionals to sign off on an abortion procedure. This legal rule does not apply to any other aspect of reproductive healthcare in the UK.
  3. Subsections (a) to (d) of Section 1 of the Abortion Act effectively pathologise the choice to end a pregnancy. The grounds for abortion under the Act frame the decision to have an abortion exclusively as a matter of health or welfare, regardless of the specific circumstances of the person seeking an abortion.
  4. NUS-USI believes that abortion should be governed by the same robust regulatory and ethical frameworks as other medical procedures.
  5. NUS-USI believes that any framework for abortion law reform in the North of Ireland must be inclusive of trans men, as well as non-binary, gender fluid and intersex people. The language of the Abortion Act, which reflects contemporary values and knowledge in 1967, does not meet this standard.