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Northern Ireland Legalises Abortion And Same-Sex Marriage

Northern Ireland has now decriminalised abortion, and sex-same marriage law is set to be legalised.

As of February 2020, same-sex marriages will legally be allowed to take place.

Not until the end of March will the government have finalised the regulations and provisions of abortion services.

Despite a devolved government not being reformed, as of October 21, the legislation is of effect.

A recall was triggered off by the Northern Ireland Assembly by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and members from other unionist parties, in an attempt to block the lifting of a near-ban on terminations.

Abortion was only allowed before today in Northern Ireland, if the woman’s life was considered to be at risk or if there was a danger of permanent and serious damage to the woman’s physical or mental health.

Abortion was considered a criminal offence under Section 58 and Section 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 but has now been repealed.

A duty has been placed on the government by the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation Etc) Act 2019, which affirms that the government needs to implement the recommendations of a report by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which was published in 2018.

In the CEDAW report, it is stated that abortion needs to be legalised in a situation where a pregnant woman’s mental or physical health is affected, regardless of the conditionality of the “long term or permanent” effects.

It is said that terminations should also be permitted in cases such as rape or incest.

The committee also stated that abortion should be legalised when there is a “severe fatal impairment” without the perpetuation of “stereotypes” towards disabled people.

The report added that women should be reassured that they have financial and social support if they do decide to carry such pregnancies to full term.

Further recommendations included providing access to “high-quality abortion and post-abortion care in all public health facilities” and ensuring “age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education” on “sexual and reproductive health and rights”.

It will be decided by the government which further, more detailed measures will satisfy the requirements of the legislation.

Julian Smith, Northern Ireland Secretary, is required to put in place regulations by 31 March 2020.

Until then, the government has issued guidance to medical professionals which covers this period.

People took to Facebook to share their proposals ahead of the new legislation.

As of 2014, same-sex marriage has been legalised in England, Scotland, and Wales.

For the first time, in November 2015, there was a numerical majority in favour of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

However, the DUP blocked the change in law through using a veto which is known as the Petition of Concern.

Despite this, the new legislation demands that the Westminister government bring in regulations to provide same-sex marriage by 13 January 2020.

Couples will have 28 days to indicate their intention to marry, which means the first gay weddings are expected to be held in the week of Valentine’s Day.

Northern Ireland’s Catholic bishops said that Monday was a sad day for local democracy and a tragedy for unborn children.

They spoke of their concern at the redefinition of marriage and appealed to political parties to re-double their efforts to restore the power-sharing executive.

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