Will abortion still be a crime after repeal?

Yes, but not for women who have abortions or for doctors who comply with the new law.

At the moment, it is a serious criminal offence to have or to administer an abortion in Ireland (Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, s. 22). The only exception is where a pregnant person’s life is at risk.

The proposed new law (General Scheme) will decriminalise abortion for (i) women who have an abortion, including a self administered abortion with abortion pills (Head 18(2), General Scheme); and (ii) anyone who gives an abortion in accordance with the Act itself.

In any case where abortion care is provided outside of the terms of the Act, it will be a criminal offence (Head 18, General Scheme).

Examples of activity that appears to be criminalised under the Act include:

  • Performing an abortion after 12 weeks where there is a risk to the health of the pregnant person that falls short of a “risk of serious harm to the health of the pregnant woman” (Head 4, General Scheme);
  • Where someone provides medication abortion pills for use by a woman after 12 weeks;
  • Performing abortion (including providing medication abortion pills) without being a medical practitioner registered in Ireland (Head 1, General Scheme).

There will still be some situations in which abortion will be a crime, but a doctor who complies with the law will not be committing a crime, and it will never be a crime for a woman to have an abortion.


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