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Same-sex marriage and abortion are now legal in Northern Ireland for the first time | Politics News



Pro-choice campaigners in Northern Ireland have celebrated "an historic moment" as abortion and same-sex marriage become legal for the first time.

Grainne Teggert, from Amnesty UK, told Sky News: "It marks the end of inequality both for same-sex couples who have long wanted to marry the person they love, as well as for women who have suffered at the hands of our abortion ban.

"And it brings Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK".

The new laws are the result of a push put forward in Westminster by backbench Labor MPs this summer.

Blocking the changes would have required Northern Ireland's currently-defunct devolved government to start operating again.

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 21: Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (C) speaks after a meeting of the Stormont Assembly on abortion rights and gay marriage on October 21, 2019 in Belfast, United Kingdom. Northern Ireland's banning abortion and gay marriage laws are set to be liberalized tonight unless its devolved government is reconstituted. (Photo by Charles McQuillan / Getty Images)
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Arlene Foster, DUP leader, calls it a 'sad day'

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) tried to table a parliament sitting on Monday, the first in more than two-and-a-half years, but opposition parties did not attend.

Arlene Foster, DUP leader, called it a "sad day" with regards to changes to abortion law, which is seen in Northern Ireland as the most contentious of the two topics.

More from Northern Ireland

"I know some people are going to celebrate and I would tell those people who think we are sad today and who believe this is an affront to human dignity and to human life," she said.

Previously, women in Northern Ireland could only legally access an abortion when pregnancy would pose a long-term and serious risk to their mother's physical or mental health.

It meant women with non-viable pregnancies, or who had become pregnant as a result of incest or rape, either had to carry the pregnancy to term or risk criminal prosecution by traveling overseas for an abortion, buying abortion pills online or by going to a potentially unsafe, illegal clinic at home.

It was also illegal for doctors to advise women where and how they could access abortion services.

Sarah Ewart had to travel to England for a term after being told that her baby would not survive after birth.

She told Sky News: "To be sent somewhere where no one knew me, or my medical history was a very scary experience.

"I have no grave to visit, no ashes at my little girl's home. Hopefully these changes will mean that no one else will have that experience, because they'll be able to access medical services at home."


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