The political situation in Northern Ireland is extremely tense and volatile at the moment. However women’s rights campaigners have been hoping that the flux in power may lead to some important changes in legislation particularly those around women’s rights and abortion.

CAMPAIGNERS on both sides of the abortion debate in Northern Ireland were last night speculating on the impact of potentially radical changes in the Republic and whether it’ll pave the way for females throughout the island to have access to legal termination. With pledges given by southern wellness minister Simon Harris that fresh draft legislation will include a provision for abortion without restrictions up to 12 weeks after conception, professional life groups expressed concern it might lead to abortion on demand. Choice bodies were eager to stress that women from the north shouldn’t be made to seek services in other jurisdictions, but admitted that travel might soon become easier – possibly no longer than 90 minutes away.

The political agendas of both the leading parties in Northern Ireland are often completely opposed in some areas.  You can see much of the coverage on local TV stations and those abroad like the BBC iPlayer which you can access here.

About 700 women travel to England from Northern Ireland every year for abortions, with prices ranging between 200 and fourteen hundred pounds plus. While NHS abortions for females from the north were introduced last year in Britain, travel and accommodation costs must be covered. Amid warnings about the rise in the number of women using prohibited abortion pills – it’s estimated that 500 were acquired in the north last year – and worries of prosecution, campaigners also say a short trip to the Republic could become a better choice for some women. There are cross – border healthcare arrangements in relation to kid’s heart surgery and cancer solutions however, it remains unclear whether the government of the Republic would follow the example of the NHS and also offers free abortion to women from the north.

In the mean time, any further discussion of the abortion issue in Stormont is subject to a discovery at the most recent round of talks to restore the devolved institutions. A report completed by means of an assembly working group over one year ago, which can be understood to recommend changes to strict abortion legislation in cases of a fatal feotal abnormality – was withheld from publication because civil servants say they require a minister to sign off its release.   Further information and additional coverage can be found online particularly in Catholic countries like Spain here. The assembly has voted against allowing women to terminate pregnancies. Guidance for health workers providing advice to women seeking abortion services in Britain remains on the shelf, with Department of Health civil servants seeking legal advice.