Abortion Access in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland: International Influence and Changing Laws?

  • Claire Viall
Keywords: abortion, Ireland, reproductive rights, European Union


Access to abortion services in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is extremely restricted. Women have few options beyond traveling abroad and paying out of pocket to undergo an abortion. In the United Kingdom, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks and is largely free of cost under the National Health Service. While Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, laws legalizing abortion do not apply, and abortion law has not changed since 1861. In 1983, the Republic of Ireland passed an amendment to its constitution equating the life of a mother with the life of an unborn fetus. Since then, several high-profile court cases were brought to the European Court of Human Rights, which has slowly expanded abortion access in the country.

Author Biography

Claire Viall

CLAIRE VIALL is a second-year Master of Public Policy candidate, concentrating in Social, Health and Gender policy. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley majoring in History and minoring in Celtic Studies. She currently works as a Senior Legislative Assistant for a Member of Congress from California. Her legislative portfolio includes Education, Transportation and Infrastructure, Energy and Environment, Women, Children and Families, and Disability. She is also the lead stafer for the Congressional Deaf Caucus and the Battery Energy Storage Caucus. Prior to working on Capitol Hill, Claire was a Program Assistant at the International Center for Research on Women. When not working or studying, Claire loves to practice American Sign Language, and is an avid listener of podcasts and Beyoncé. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Claire has lived in Washington, DC for almost six years.