The Family Planning Association of Northern Ireland will seek permission June 13 to mount a legal challenge to a system that does not give women in the province the same access to abortion as those in England, Wales and Scotland.
An 1861 law makes it a crime to procure a miscarriage. There is a defense, established by a case in 1939, if the abortion was carried out to preserve the life or health of the mother. However, in the absence of any official guidance, doctors´ reluctance to run the risk of prosecution made them unwilling to perform abortions, the association said.
Seventy to 80 abortions are performed each year in Northern Ireland, while around 1,500 women spend between £450 and £900 in travel and medical costs to have their unborn children put to death in England.