How to get an abortion in Northern Ireland
At MSI Reproductive Choices UK, we believe in choice, and will support you every step of the way. In this blog, we explain all you need to know about how to access abortion care from Northern Ireland.
Is abortion legal in Northern Ireland?
In Northern Ireland, abortion was decriminalised in 2019, and the new legal framework came into effect in 2020. Abortion is now unconditionally legal up to 12 weeks in Northern Ireland. After 12 weeks, the law is essentially the same as the rest of the UK.
In the rest of the UK (in England, Scotland and Wales), the Abortion Act 1967 made abortion legal as long as specific criteria are met. It is possible to have an abortion up to 23 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy (gestation). There is no gestational limit for abortions if there’s evidence of a fatal fetal abnormality or a significant risk to your life if you continue with the pregnancy.
Accessing abortion care in Northern Ireland
If your gestation is under 18 weeks, you will be able to access abortion care locally, in Northern Ireland.
If your gestation is over 12 weeks, you will be able to access surgical abortion care through a regional surgical service. You will be referred to your local health trust in the first instance for triaging and consultation, and if you require treatment at the regional surgical service, you will be referred as appropriate.
Travelling to England to access surgical abortion care from Northern Ireland
If you are over 18 weeks pregnant, you can access NHS-funded (free) abortion care in England. This means that you can travel to England to access surgical treatment with one of the funded abortion providers available (including MSI Reproductive Choices, BPAS, NUPAS, and NHS partners) up to 23 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy.
The UK government have committed to cover the cost of abortion care for women and pregnant people from Northern Ireland who travel to England for treatment. As part of your treatment, your travel arrangements and expenses, overnight accommodation and transportation expenses (e.g. taxi) will be covered.
To receive funded abortion care, you will need to:
- Live in Northern Ireland (have a BT postcode)
- Be registered with a GP in Northern Ireland (again, with a BT postcode)
You do not need a GP referral to access abortion care in England, so you don’t have to tell your GP if you do not want to. We will help you to arrange travel and overnight accommodation.
To arrange treatment with one of the funded abortion providers, you can call the central advice and booking line on 0333 234 2184.
We provide counselling for anyone who would like to talk through their feelings in a confidential and non-judgemental environment. Counselling is available at any time before, during or after your treatment with us.
You can also speak to one of our counsellors after you have returned to Northern Ireland. We have counselling appointments available over the phone at a time that suits you. There is no time limit to you requesting a counselling appointment after your abortion, so if you decide you would like to talk to someone at a later date, we can arrange this for you.
To find out more about our counselling services, click here: Counselling at MSI UK
As part of your abortion treatment with MSI, we can help you find a method of contraception that best suits your individual needs.
Following an abortion your fertility will return almost immediately. If you would like to start a method of contraception following your abortion, we can help. As part of your abortion care, you will be offered a range of contraceptive methods – both Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive methods (such as the IUD, IUS, implant or injection) or Short-Acting methods (such as the combined contraceptive pill, the mini pill, the patch or the ring) – and we’ll be there to advise and talk through your options with you.
To find out more about our contraception services, click here: Contraception at MSI UK
To get in touch with MSI Reproductive Choices, you can:
- Call our advice line on 0345 300 8090.
- Or, if you are not ready or are unable to make a call, you can choose to live chat with an advisor on our website.