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Why do women need abortions?

Updated Monday, 21st October 2019

As abortion becomes legal in Northern Ireland, we look back at our video collection on women's abortion experiences based on Open University research that shows how an unintended and unwanted pregnancy can easily happen, even when women are using contraception.

On 27 October 1967 a bill was passed making abortions by registered practitioners legal in specific circumstances. The 1967 Abortion Act (as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990) permits abortion up to 24 weeks when two doctors agree that continuing with the pregnancy would be more harmful to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman, or any existing children of her family, than if the pregnancy was ended.  After 24 weeks an abortion is permitted in very limited circumstances concerning the health of the pregnant woman or her child if the pregnancy proceeds. A new Campaign, We Trust Women, believes that abortion should be removed from the criminal law completely.

Prior to 22nd October 2019, the 1967 Act did not apply to Northern Ireland, where abortion was illegal unless the doctor acts to save the mother's life or if the pregnancy would result in the pregnant woman becoming a "physical or mental wreck." This was overturned when the High Court in Belfast ruled Northern Ireland's abortion law in breach of the UK's human rights commitments.

To highlight the 50th anniversary of the Act being passed, as well as women’s current experiences of abortion, we created a video collection based on an Open University research project on real women's abortion experience. 

* These videos use actors to tell the stories from real life case studies about abortion experiences. 

Helpful links and information

Video resources:

Pro-Choice advocacy:

Information for health professionals: 

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