NI Abortion rates have almost doubled in the last three years since abortion law was changed

Both Lives Matter | Press | NI Abortion rates have almost doubled in the last three years since abortion law was changed

In response to a FOI request made by Both Lives Matter, the Department of Health have revealed that (as of 23rd May 2023) 5,648 abortions have taken place in NI since the abortion law was changed.

Dawn McAvoy, Both Lives Matter lead said, “Nearly 6,000 abortions on average across the three years since the new abortion regulations were laid out at the end of March 2020, signals that annual abortion rates for NI have nearly doubled.*

This new law stands in stark contrast to our previous life affirming law. Before Westminster’s intervention around 2,000 lives were being saved from abortion every year. Our research, which was scrutinised and upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority, showed that our previous law saved the lives of over 100,000 people born between 1967 and 2017. Now this carefully balanced law has been reversed.”

Information released by The Northern Trust reveals that 87.8% of their healthcare staff, who could potentially be involved in abortion provision, have signalled ‘conscientious objection’.

A midwife who wishes to remain anonymous said: “With the law change it can sometimes be really challenging to be a midwife who simply wants to care for both lives. The fact that 87.8% of healthcare workers in one trust have said they won’t take part in abortions is a real encouragement for us, that we aren’t alone in supporting women, their families, and their unborn child.”

Dawn says: “Conscientious objection cannot be viewed as a barrier to ‘service provision’ but should be respected as a strong desire to care for both women and their unborn children as patients worthy of dignity and respect.

It is concerning that there is presently no legal framework in place to ensure full and accurate reporting on all terminations of pregnancies carried out in Northern Ireland .** There is no legal requirement to record why women are having abortions, in order to understand and respond to those needs at a policy level and offer alternatives. This structural failure is failing women and must be addressed.”


Available for interview:

Dawn McAvoy – Both Lives Matter lead

Contact: [email protected] or 07976 414 816


* Our launch report and statistical research looking at abortion rates in NI and GB Both-Lives-Matter-report-January-2017-Web.pdf (

** Northern Ireland Termination of Pregnancy Statistics 2021/22 (

***We made our FOI requests in April 2023 and received the final response at the end of September 2023

Prior to the law changing, between 2010 and 2019 an average of 919 women per year travelled from Northern Ireland to England and Wales for abortions.

Since March 2020 there has been almost 2000 abortions per year. If we divide the 5,648 by 38 months (3 years 2 months from end March 2020 to 23 May 2023) – gives an average of 148 abortions per month. This equals 1776 per year, which is almost double the previous rate.


  • To re-frame the abortion debate
  • To advocate for both lives in pregnancy and beyond.
  • To create a life-affirming culture that values each woman and her unborn child.
  • To restore lost legal protections for both women and unborn children.

“We stand together, from every background, all faiths or none, united in recognising the human dignity of everyone, ready to create a new culture, where compassion, solidarity and support for both lives is the norm.
We stand for
 the recognition and protection of human life. Because human life and dignity are at stake, abortion is about more than a private choice, it is of community or public interest. So we advocate for laws which seek to protect the lives and health of both women and unborn children.
We stand with
 women and unborn children calling for world-leading support & services pre and post birth and better care than abortion.
Let’s re-humanise the conversation.”


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