Pro-Life Demonstration in Dublin, 7th July 2007
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Abortion Rights Timeline
Recent Events in Northern Ireland and the Republic
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Pro-Life marchers gather on O'Connell 
Street.
Pro-Life protesters gather on O'Connell Street opposite the General Post Office.

The GPO was chosen as the meeting point.
The General Post Office was chosen as a meeting point because of its symbolic value in representing Irish independence - in this case from Europe.

Pro-Life Banner
Banner on O'Connell Street: 'Defending Human Life, Defending the Family'.

Protesters carrying balloons.
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Protesters carrying balloons which were released at the end of the march.

Republican Sinn Fein mixes with the Pro-Lifers
Republican Sinn Fein gets caught up in the Pro-Life demonstration.
RSF banners read:
'British Royals Not Welcome While Britain Holds Six Counties'
'Political Status for Republican PoWs'

The march advances.
Walking from O'Connell Street to the Irish Parliament.

Marchers on the move.
The protesters stream by.

Crowd gathers to see speakers.
The crowd gathers outside the Irish Parliament Buildings.
The banner behind the speakers reads 'Keep Ireland Abortion Free'.
   
Father Brian McKevitt addresses the crowd.
Father Brian McKevitt, editor of 'Alive' newspaper, gives a talk on the Media and on Amnesty International's pro-abortion campaign.

Prayer circle on Graftan Street.
After the demonstration: a prayer group on Grafton Street.

More information can be found on the Life Site.

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TIMELINE OF ABORTION RIGHTS IN IRELAND


1861 Offences Against the Person Act.

Abortion became a criminal offence.

Article 58

Every woman being with child, who with intent to procure her own miscarriage shall unlawfully administer to herself any poison or other noxious thing.....and whomsoever, with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman whether she be or be not with child shall unlawfully administer to her or cause to be taken by her any poison or other noxious thing....with the like intent shall be guilty of a felon, and being convicted thereof shall be liable......to be kept in penal servitude for life.

Article 59

[W]homsoever shall unlawfully supply or procure any poison or other noxious thing......knowing that the same is intended to be unlawfully used or employed with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman whether she be or not be with child, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof shall be liable to be kept in penal servitude for the term of three years.

1983 Amendment to the Constitution

Article 40.3.3

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

1986 - 1991 The Information Cases

The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child took a series of court actions agianst Dublin Well Woman, Open Door Counselling and three students' unions to prevent them from providing women with abortion information. In 1986 Hamilton J. determined such information provision to be in breach of Article 40.3.3, and this was confirmed by the Supreme Court two years later. In 1991, the European Court of Justice ruled that students unions could be barred from giving out information on abortion because they had no financial link with abortion clinics in England. Subsequently the Irish Government entered a Protocol to the Maastricht Treaty removing the issue from the jurisdiction of EC law.

1992 (Feb). The X Case.

A fourteen-year-old rape victim was prevented by High Court injunction from travelling to England for an abortion. Following public outcry, the Supreme Court overturned the decision, ruling that "if it is established . . . that there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother, which can only be avoided by the termination of her pregnancy, such termination is permissible." It was judged that the girl presented a suicide risk if forced to continue with the pregnancy; termination would have been permissable even in Ireland. If there had been no such risk, the provision of information to the girl and possibly the girl's right to travel could have been blocked.

1992 (Oct). The European Court of Human Rights.

Folllowing an appeal by Open Door Counselling and the Well Woman, the European Court found the ban on abortion information to be in breach of Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of expression. As it prohibited the provision of information to anyone, including child victims of rape, it was 'overbroad and disproportionate'. The Supreme Court did not follow this decision in 1993, choosing instead to uphold the injunctions.

1992 (Nov). The Travel and Information Referenda.

Three referenda were voted on, the first two passing successfully and amending Article 40.3.3 so that the rights of a pregnant woman to travel and gain information were safeguarded. Subsection 3 of 40.3.3 "shall not limit freedom ot travel between the State and another state...[It] shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state." The third referendum did not go through. It would have restricted the 'X case test' to cases where the woman's life was endangered by illness or disorder, but not by a risk of suicide.

1995 Regulation of Information Act.

This Act laid down the conditions in which information could be provided on abortion. The Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional as it protected both the rights of the unborn and the mother under Article 40.3.3. Unspecified rights of the unborn could not be invoked to counter the will of the people expressed in 1992.


1996 The Constitution Review Group.

The Review Group issued a Report on the Constitution in which they recommended that legislation should be introduced to implement the X judgement and specify under which conditions abortion could be carried out lawfully. Anti-abortion campaigners rejected this recommendation.


1997 (March). The Students' Union Appeal.

The Supreme Court lifted the injuctions against the students' unions for conflicting reasons. Denham and Keane JJ argued that the 1988 Supreme Court decision had been wrong as it failed to put adequate emphasis on the mother's right to life; while Hamilton and Blayney JJ said that the injunctions were originally valid but could no longer be upheld due to the law change in November 1992 and the Regulation of Information Act. Meanwhile the anti-abortion campaign continued to demand a referendum which would have completely outlawed 'direct' abortion.

1998 Abortion Working Group.

When a 13-year-old girl, in the care of the Eastern Health Board, became pregnant as a result of rape, she became subject to District Court proceedings as she sought to leave the state for an abortion in England. The original proceedings did not relate to the abortion but to her leaving the juridiction while under a care order. Her father, who had originally supported her, became influenced by anti-abortion groups. Ultimately the High Court decided that as Miss C was likely to commit suicide if forced to continue with the pregnancy, she was entitled to an abortion in Ireland. Since an abortion would not have been unconstitutional in the State, it was permitted to leave the State to have the procedure. The implication was that another person who was the subject of a care order and was not a suicide risk could be prevented from leaving the State for an abortion. Opinion polls showed widespread sympathy for Miss C.

Following the C case, the government set up an 'Inter-Departmental Working Group on Abortion'. A  Green Paper was promised for 'late summer 1998'.

1999 Green Paper on Abortion.

Published in September 1999, this outlined seven options:
  1. Absolute Constitutional Ban on Abortion.
  2. Amendment of the Constitutional Provisions so as to restrict the Application of the X Case.
  3. Retention of the Status quo.
  4. Retention of the Constitutional Status quo with Legislative Restatement of the Prohibition on Abortion.
  5. Legislation to regulate Abortion in circumstances defined in the X Case.
  6. Reversion to the pre-1983 position.
  7. Permitting Abortion on grounds beyond those specified in the X Case:
    • Risk to Physical/Mental Health of Mother
    • Abortion for Women Pregnant as a result of Rape or Incest
    • Congenital Malformations
    • Abortion for Economic or Social Reasons
    • Abortion on Request.
2000 All Party Oireachtas Committee

Medical practitioners, special interest groups and faith groups addressed the Committee during May, June and July. Only the views of women who had directly experienced Irish abortion were not heard.

2001 (October). At the end of a five year consultation, the government announced plans to for a referendum which would reverse the 1992 X Case ruling. It also announced the formation of a Crisis Pregnancy Agency.

2002 The Twenty-Fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Bill).

Defeated on the 6th of March by a narrow margin - 49.58% voted yes and 50.42% voted no. Turnout was 42.89%.

2003 The Labour Party issued its Wrynn Report on abortion.

The twentieth anniversary of the 1983 abortion referendum was marked by an Alliance for Choice event which called for the repeal of article 40.3.3 from the Constitution. The Crisis Pregnancy Agency, which had just suffered a funding cut, launched the State's first strategy to address the issue of crisis pregancy on November 12th.

2005 Three women took Ireland to the European Court of Human Rights, supported by the Family Planning Association, to argue that Irish abortion law 'jeopardises their health and well-being'.

2007 The Miss D case.

A 17-year-old girl, on being informed by doctors four months into her pregancy that her baby could not survive more than a few days after birth, campaigned for her right to travel abroad for an abortion. A psychiatrist appointed by the HSE determined that Miss D was distressed but not suicidal, and therefore could not be allowed the abortion. The High Court ruled in early May that there were no statutory or constitutional grounds for preventing her from travelling to Britain.

2012 Savita Halappanavar.

Indian doctor Savita Halappanavar died of septicemia after doctors in Galway refused to terminate her pregnancy, despite telling her husband that the foetus was not viable. Protests followed in Ireland, India and elsewhere.

This information was taken from the Irish Family Planning Association.
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TIMELINE OF RECENT EVENTS IN NORTHERN IRELAND AND THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

January 28th 2008Midwives in Northern Ireland threatened to stop performing emergency abortions because of fears they would be vulnerable to criminal prosecution.
June 2008Abortion was one of the issues raised in the Lisbon EU treaty referendum. There were fears that European law would 'let in abortion by the back door'.
July 11th 2008A study showed that women in Northern Ireland were buying unsafe abortion pills over the internet.
July 31st 2008Les Reid of The Belfast Humanist Group welcomed a proposal to extend abortion facilities to Northern Ireland. Reid commented 'Of course, Catholics and evangelicals will oppose this development. As humanists, we say to them: "The facility to have an abortion is not compulsory. If you do not wish to use it, that is your choice. But you should allow others to use it when they feel it is necessary."'
September 9th 2008Alliance for Choice launched a campaign to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.
October 18th 2008Protesters both for and against abortion attended rallies at Stormont. MPs had been allowed a free vote on whether to update legislation from 1967. Pro-choice MPs put forward amendments for more liberal rules that would allow nurses to perform abortions, and to end the 'two doctor rule', so just one doctor was needed to approve a termination. A third proposal was to legalise abortions in Northern Ireland. Cardinal Sean Brady and four other bishops in the North signed a statement arguing that the Bill went against the wishes of the people.
October 19th 2008The Guardian published an editorial arguing in favour of extending abortion rights to Northern Ireland. 'Women, many of them desperately poor, some the victims of rape and abuse, will still take the boat and plane to Britain to terminate their pregnancies, often at great financial as well as personal and emotional cost. A smaller minority will actually be offered terminations within Northern Ireland hospitals; that is those women whose lives would be in immediate mortal danger if their pregnancy went ahead. This leaves frontline medical staff, notably the midwives, in a precarious legal position.'
January 2009Health Minister Michael McGimpsey released figures that showed 1343 women from Northern Ireland had abortions in England or Wales during 2007. The majority of the procedures would have been illegal in Northern Ireland.
March 2009The Department of Health published abortion guidelines to health professionals for the first time. The guidelines were meant to make it clear what was permitted and what was the legal position of staff who took part in terminations.
30th November 2009The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child won a High Court bid to have the Northern Irish guidelines withdrawn, on the grounds they were 'misleading'. The court agreed on the grounds that the guidelines did not deal properly with issues of counselling and conscientious objection. The Family Planning Association called the decision 'disappointing'.
21st July 2009It was reported that the number of women from the Republic of Ireland travelling to the UK for abortions was continuing to decline. The Crisis Pregnancy Agency showed that 4600 Irish women attended British abortion clinics in 2008, which was 86 fewer than in 2007 and two thousand fewer than the agency's first year in 2001. Numbers of women travelling to the Netherlands for terminations also fell.
December 2009Ireland's abortion law was challenged in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The Irish government engaged two leading lawyers to argue its case that the country had a sovereign right to protect the life of the unborn. The legal action had been brought by three Irish women who said that the abortion ban violated the European Convention on Human Rights. Writing in the Guardian Fionola Meredith said that the pro-life side were dominated by 'hatred'. 'Such nasty outbursts could be dismissed as so much ridiculous hysteria, were it not for the fact that the anti-abortion lobby, with its scare tactics, "prayer vigils" and wild accusations, has effectively been allowed to define the situation in Ireland, shifting the entire discourse on to moral grounds. [...] Discussion of any other kind [of morality] – such as the moral argument for women's agency over their own fertility – is all too often obliterated by the anti-choice campaign.'
January 2010Human Rights Watch accused the Irish government of passing on 'grossly misleading' information to women about abortion. The report said that women had been advised abortion could cause them to 'become infertile, require a hysterectomy or possibly need a colostomy bag'.
May 2010Channel 4 banned a Marie Stopes advert from being shown in Northern Ireland.
May 2010It was reported that the number of women travelling to Britain for an abortion had declined for the eighth successive year.
April 2012The Dáil debated a Socialist Party Private Members' Bill calling for abortion services to be introduced in Ireland. It was defeated 109 to 20.
July 2012Minister of State Kathleen Lynch said she expected legislation on abortion to follow the X case.
October 2012A Marie Stopes private abortion clinic opened in Belfast. Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin said that his party remained opposed to abortion. However, Sinn Féin's Caitriona Ruane condemned John Larkin's comments from four years previously that abortion was like 'shooting a baby'.
October 28th 2012Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist, died of complications following a septic miscarriage. She had been denied an abortion that might have saved her life.
November 3rd 2012Over 2000 people took part in an anti-abortion march organised by Youth Defence in Castlebar.
November 16th 2012Protesters demonstrated outside the Irish Embassy in Delhi over the death of Savita Halappanavar.
November 17th 2012Rallies were held across Ireland in support of Savita Halappanavar.
November 18th 2012Minister for Health James Reilly said that there would be no rushed response on abortion.
November 21st 2012The president, Michael D Higgins, spoke of his wish for an inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar. Fine Gael TD James Bannon said it was unusual for the president to get involved in such matters.
November 2012The Savita Halappanavar issued Minister for Health Dr James Reilly with an ultimatum, urging him to hold a public inquiry into her death.
December 2012A poll by the Sunday Business Post/ Red C showed that eight out of 10 people supported legislation for the X Case ruling on abortion.
December 2012The government confirmed 'legislation with regulations' on abortion based on the X case. Bishop of Kilmore Leo O'Reilly responded by calling this the 'first step on the road to a culture of death'. Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte said he was 'taken aback'. However, in his Christmas message, Cardinal Seán Brady reiterated that no government 'was entitled to remove [the fundamental right to life] from an innocent person'.
January 2013An Oireachtas committee was set up to hear submissions on abortion. Barrister Simon Mills said that there would have been many more X cases if it hadn't been for the proximity of the UK.
February 13th 2013President Michael T Higgins said that 'certainty' was needed in abortion legislation.
February 2013Two MLAs, the DUP's Paul Givan and the SDLP's Alban Maginness, unveiled a joint amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill which they hoped would make abortion illegal outside of the NHS. The intention was to stop abortions by private organisations like the Marie Stopes clinic.
March 2013Over 100 people, mostly women, signed a petition against an open letter against the attempt to make abortion illegal outside the NHS.
March 2013Catholic Primate of all Ireland Cardinal Seán Brady condemned abortion in his Easter message.
April 2013A number of Fine Gael TDs called for a 'sunset clause' to be added to abortion legislation. If changes led to an 'opening of the floodgates' then they could be reviewed after a number of years.
April 25th 2013Taoiseach Enda Kenny said there would not be a referendum on abortion.
April 28th 2013The Taoiseach called on the public and politicians to withhold judgement on proposed abortion legislation until it was published. This followed by announcement by TD Brian Walsh that he would not vote for the legislation if the threat of suicide was considered grounds for termination.
May 1st 2013The Taoiseach said that the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Bill would not change Ireland's law on abortion.
May 6th 2013After Cardinal Seán Brady said that the Catholic Church would be mobilising against proposed abortion legislation, Enda Kenny said that anyone was entitled to express an opinion.
May 13th 2013Members of the Irish College of General Practitioners voted to bring clarity to the issue of abortion based on medical guidelines. They also voted in favour of a motion calling for abortions to be allowed for non-viable foetal anomalies.
May 18th 2013The Medical Council told the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children that the Medical Council was seeking changes to the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013. The council believed that two psychiatrists would be enough to decide whether a woman was a risk from suicide that could only be averted by a termination.
May 18th 2013A Millward Brown poll showed that a majority favoured allowing abortion on grounds of suicide, rape and health threats.
May 26th 2013The Standards in Public Office Commission expressed concern with the agency's power to monitor groups involved in the abortion debate.
June 2013Two changes were made to the draft of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill. A provision allowing an institution to refuse to provide an abortion on the grounds of conscientious objection was removed, and the list of institutions approved for carrying out abortions was widened. However, a penalty for up to 14 years in prison was introduced for destroying unborn human life.
June 16th 2013The Taoiseach was heckled by pro-life protesters at a War of Independence commemoration in Co. Longford.
June 19th 2013Enda Kenny insisted that there would be no free vote for Fine Gael on the new 'Protection of Life' Bill.
June 23rd 2013Minister of State for Finance, Brian Hayes, ruled out a referendum on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill.
July 1st 2013Enda Kenny said that the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 'is important but it is not radical'. It covered cases where there was a real and substantial risk to the life of a woman.
July 2013White crosses splashed with red paint were erected close to the home of politician Heather Humphreys after she publicly supported the new legislation.
July 2nd 2013The second stage of the abortion legislation was passed.
July 6th 2013A large rally against abortion took place in Dublin. Organisers of the 'Rally for Life' claimed that it was the largest march against abortion ever held in Ireland.
July 14th 2013The President of the High Court refused to grant an injunction to Jane Murphy, from Dublin, aimed at stopping provisions of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill being voted into law.
July 12th 2013Following a 127-31 vote in the Dáil, abortion was legalised under certain conditions.
July 16th 2013The bill passed its second stage.
July 2013The High Court was asked to order a psychiatric assessment of a young woman to see if she was travelling abroad for an abortion against her will. Her boyfriend went to court claiming her family might have forced her to go to the UK against her will.
July 2013Police in Britain investigated the case of a woman who had travelled to London for an abortion, but died hours after the procedure. The woman's husband said that she had originally sought an abortion in Dublin but told it was not legally possible.
August 2013The Data Protection Commissioner contacted the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street after a media report revealed details of a recent termination carried out there.
October 2013Senior health officials considered the case of a woman from Northern Ireland who went to England for an abortion because her baby had no chance of survival.
October 12th 2013Northern Ireland's justice minister David Ford said that abortion legislation, specifically whether a woman should be allowed an abortion if the baby had a foetal abnormality, needed further consideration. Two women in that situation had gone public with their stories. They could not have abortions under Northern Ireland law.
October 17th 2013The Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland said that assisting women to go to England for a lawful abortion was not a criminal offence.
December 2013The DUP accused the Justice Minister David Ford of treating the Stormont Assembly with contempt over potential changes to the abortion law.
February 2014A motion to vote on abortion according to conscience was rejected at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Wexford.
April 2014Sinn Féin's Paul Maskey apologised to Bishop John McAreavey for a party letter that had seriously misrepresented the bishop's position on abortion. The bishop said 'how any political party could be mistaken about the pro-life position of the Church defies belief'.
May 2014After a case brought by a 17-year-old girl from Northern Ireland, the High Court in London ruled that women from Northern Ireland were not legally entitled to free abortions on the NHS in England.
July 5th 2014Thousands of people took part in an anti-abortion rally in Belfast.
July 24th 2014A United Nations human rights panel told Ireland it should revise its restrictive abortion laws.
July 2014A court heard that an anti-abortion campaigner, Bernie Smyth, had left Marie Stopes director Dawn Purvis 'extremely shaken and upset' by alleged harassment outside her workplace.
August 2014The Irish justice minister, Frances Fitzgerald, said she was concerned about a case in which a woman was denied an abortion, despite being a suicide risk. The woman had gone on hunger strike, but later agreed to a caesarean and gave birth. However, according to the law abortion was permitted if the mother was suicidal.
August 18th 2014Justice Minister David Ford said that if there was not a joint approach with the Department of Health, the Department of Justice would bring forward its own consultation paper on abortion.
August 19th 2014It was reported that a young woman who became pregnant through rape was told she could have an abortion at 24 weeks, but was put through a Caesarean Section instead.
August 23rd 2014The Health Service Executive published the Terms of Reference in the case of 'Miss Y', a rape victim whose baby was delivered early by a Caesarean section. The baby was in intensive care and the woman was receiving psychiatric care. About 250 people gathered outside the Dáil for a pro-life vigil.
September 2014Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said that an abortion referendum should not take place in the run up to the 2015 election.
October 8th 2014The Stormont Department of Justice recommended that when a foetus has a lethal abnormality, abortions should be allowed in Northern Ireland. The public would be asked for opinions on law changes in cases of lethal foetal abnormality and rape.
October 24th 2014It was reported that the number of abortion pills intercepted had doubled during 2014.
November 19th 2014Bernadette Smyth, leader of anti-abortion group Precious Life, was found guilty of harassing a Marie Stopes clinic director at her Belfast city centre offices.
December 2014Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil that Ireland's abortion laws were too restrictive.
December 19th 2014Bernadette Smyth was cautioned for breaching a court order that restrained her from protesting outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast.
December 19th 2014The Tánaiste, Joan Burton, said she felt that the Eighth Amendment, on abortion, did not serve women well when issues of life, safety and health were in question..
January 16th 2015Martin McGuinness said that Sinn Féin's abortion policy was compatible with his Catholicism. The party supported a woman's right to an abortion in limited circumstances, and 'the Catholic Church is made up of people who have different opinions on different issues'.
March 2015At the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, the party voted to allow abortion in the case of fatal foetal abnormality.
April 2015Justice Minister David Ford said that he would ask the Northern Ireland Executive for approval to introduce legislation for abortion in fatal abnormality cases.
June 2015Judgment was reserved in a landmark legal bid to change Northern Ireland's abortion laws. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was seeking to legalise abortion in cases of serious foetal malformation, rape and incest.
June 2015The United Nations committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommended a referendum on abortion in Ireland. The Pro-Life Campaign said that no referendum was necessary, and the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy ACt was not restrictive. 'That is an act which let’s remember allows abortion for the full nine months of pregnancy where there is threat of suicide and that's not based on any medical evidence.'
June 2015Anti-abortion protester Bernadette Smyth won her appeal against harassing Marie Stopes director Dawn Purvis.
July 4th 2015Thousands of people marched against abortion in Dublin.
July 2015Two women lost their legal challenge at the Court of Appeal. They were opposed to the policy of not allowing NHS abortions for women who travelled to Britain from Northern Ireland.
October 2015An American anti-abortion healthcare clinic opened in Belfast, close to the Marie Stopes clinic.
October 2015An abortion pill bus travelled to Galway and Limerick. The bus was organised by ROSA, a reproductive rights group that stood against oppression, sexism and austerity. It aimed to make medical abortion pills available and to call for a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, which dealt with abortion.
November 2015Women live-tweeted the Taoiseach Enda Kenny with their menstrual cycles to highlight Ireland's restrictive abortion laws.
November 2015Opposition parties called on the Taoiseach to say what might replace the eighth amendment of the Constitution, if it were repealed by referendum.
November 30th 2015The Belfast High Court ruled that abortion legislation in Northern Ireland was in breach of human rights law.
December 2nd 2015The Republic's Catholic bishops expressed strong support for the denunciation by the North's bishops of a High Court decision in Belfast to extend the law on abortion.
December 4th 2015Justice Minister David Ford said that Northern Ireland's new draft guidelines on abortion might already be out of date because they coincided with a court ruling that Northern Ireland's abortion legislation was in breach of human rights law.
December 16th 2015A High Court judge declared that the current law on abortion in Northern Ireland was 'incompatible' with human rights law.
January 2016John Larkin QC, the attorney general, lodged an appeal to a High Court ruling that found Northern Ireland's abortion legislation was incompatible with human rights law. Amnesty International said they would oppose any attempt to overturn the ruling.
February 2016The DUP requested a working group to look at the issue of abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality. A few days later, MLAs voted against legalising abortion in such cases.
March 2016The Environment Minister, Mark Durkan, apologised after making a flippant remark about abortion.
March 2016The Northern Ireland Executive gave the go-ahead for abortion guidelines for the medical profession would be published. According to the BBC, 'they appeared on the Department of Health's website, perhaps a deliberate move to delay the inevitable public debate and debacle'. The law remained unchanged, but the guidelines offered a more liberal interpretation. For example, there was less emphasis on a psychiatric assessment, and it became aceptable for staff not to report an abortion. The guidelines also acknowledged that the abortion pill was in circulation in Northern Ireland. According to Dr Fiona Bloomer, hospital staff were advised to take a 'don't ask, don't tell' approach.
April 2016The Precious Life anti-abortion group called for an appeal in the case of a woman who took drugs to end her pregnancy. The woman, who could not afford to travel to England for an abortion, took abortion pills and was given a suspended prison sentence. Amnesty International said it was 'appalled' by the conviction. A second woman who had also bought abortion pills called the court case a 'witch hunt' and said she had done nothing to be ashamed of.
April 2016Lord David Steel said it was ridiculous that Northern Ireland still operated under the 1861 termination law.
April 2016A woman from County Antrim who had two pregnancies terminated ended her legal challenge against Northern Ireland's Department of Health. She had sought a judicial review over an alleged failure to issue new guidance on abortion.
May 2016A woman from Derry, Diana King, said she had 'no regrets' over buying abortion pills.
June 2016The United Nations found that strict abortion laws in the Republic of Ireland had subjected a woman to discrimination and cruel and inhuman treatment. Amanda Mellet had been told that her baby would die in the womb or shortly after birth, but could not obtain an abortion in the Republic.
June 4th 2016Thousands attended a pro-life rally in Dublin.
June 2016The Anti-Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit said it would propose legislation to repeal the Eighth Amendment, on abortion. Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was important to determine the level of public consensus for a change in the Constitution with regard to the Eighth Amendment.
June 2016An appeal took place in Belfast against a High Court ruling that abortion law in Northern Ireland did not comply with the European Convention of Human Rights. Judges at the Appeal Court questioned whether recently published abortion guidelines clarified the law sufficiently. They heard evidence from campaigner Sarah Ewart, who had been forced to travel to England for a termination after doctors said her unborn child had no chance for survival outside the womb.
June 2016In the Republic, Minister for Health Simon Harris said he was seeking the Attorney General's advice on the constitionality of a bill to allow the termination of pregnance in case of fatal foetal abnormalites. The bill had been tabled by Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace.
July 2nd 2016Rallies for and against abortion reform took place in Belfast.
August 2016Marie Stopes suspended some abortion services in Belfast amid safety concerns. The Care Quality Commission had raised concerns about patient safety, and was also not satisfied about staff training and competence.
September 2016Minister for Health Simon Harris said that he felt 'a bit sickened' by reports about the advice pregnancy counselling centre was giving on abortion. The Times newspaper had carried out an undercover investigation of abortion advice services in Dublin, and published a video of their reporter being told that abortion would increase her risks of breast cancer and psychological issues.
September 2016Paediatric pathologist Dr Caroline Gannon resigned over interventions by Northern Ireland's attorney general on abortion laws around fatal foetal abnormality. She said the final straw was having to advise a family to use a picnic cooler bag to return their baby's remains to Northern Ireland after an abortion in England.
September 25th 2016Thousands of people attended a pro-choice rally in Dublin.
October 2016The Catholic Primate of All Ireland said that from a moral standpoint, there was no such thing as 'limited' abortion.
October 2016A paper in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology reported that women in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland expressed 'relief and gratitude' after using abortion pills. 'They express anger and disappointment that they could not access a safe, legal abortion and felt they were treated as second-class citizens.'
October 2016A survey conducted by Amnesty International found that three in five people in Northern Ireland wanted abortion decriminalised.
October 19th 2016It was reported that Fianna Fáil TDs would have a free vote on the Eighth Amendment motion.
This information was taken from The Guardian, RTÉ and the BBC.
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