MPs have backed amendments which require the government to liberalise abortion care in Northern Ireland if devolution is not restored by 21 October.
The move would bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK and enable women to access legal and safe abortion care services in the country.
The RCOG have been advocating for this change for a number of years and briefed all MPs ahead of the vote.
Responding to the Parliamentary vote, Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said:
“We are delighted that the cross-party Amendment #NC10 passed by 332 votes to 99 – this is a landmark moment that will help ensure women in Northern Ireland can access abortion services within their own country.
“Women in Northern Ireland face one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world which has resulted in women being forced to travel for help when faced with an unwanted pregnancy, at huge personal cost both emotionally and financially, or use abortion medication purchased online, illegally – and risk up to life in prison.
“The RCOG commits to working with partners and other organisations to provide training for healthcare professionals in Northern Ireland to support the development of a safe and professional service for women.”
Dr Carolyn Bailie, a consultant obstetrician in Belfast and Chair of the Northern Ireland Committee of the RCOG, said:
“The Northern Ireland Committee of the RCOG welcomes the vote which will enable the human rights of women in Northern Ireland to access safe abortion services. As doctors, we wish to provide compassionate and appropriate care to women and their families, according to their individual personal circumstances.
“The current situation is untenable with obstetricians in Northern Ireland unable to provide local care and support to parents who have been given the distressing diagnosis of a fetal condition likely to lead to death before or shortly after birth, and who no longer feel able to continue with the pregnancy.
“The difficulties women in Northern Ireland face in obtaining an abortion also mean they are most at risk of being criminalised if they take the desperate step of buying abortion pills online.
“We will work closely with our colleagues at the RCOG to ensure healthcare professionals in Northern Ireland are able to deliver safe abortion care services.”
Note to Editors
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In 2017, the RCOG was the first Royal Medical College to back decriminalisation of abortion in the UK.
RCOG supports abortion provision in Northern Ireland.