Oct 21, 2019

Northern Ireland prepares to legalize same-sex marriage, abortion

Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Northern Ireland is set to legalize abortion and same-sex marriage at midnight on Tuesday, marking a massive shift for the last country in the U.K. where both are outlawed, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: Northern Ireland has been home to some of the world's most restrictive abortion laws since the Victorian era, prohibiting the procedure in almost all instances, except when the mother's life was in danger. Women could be legally punished for receiving an abortion, or even seeking one.

  • The rest of the United Kingdom has allowed abortions up until the 24th week of pregnancy since 1967.
  • For generations, many women in Northern Ireland have been forced to illegally purchase pills or travel elsewhere in the U.K. to obtain abortions, per the Post.

Between the lines: Northern Ireland has a long history of sectarian tensions between unionists, who want to remain in the U.K., and nationalists, who want to rejoin the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland's legislative assembly has not convened in almost three years amid these bitter divisions.

  • As a result, the U.K. Parliament in London has passed a bill to ensure public services continue to function. Lawmakers tacked on amendments to legalize same-sex marriage and abortion, much to the anger of conservative Northern Irish politicians.

Go deeper: New poll finds "dramatic shift" on abortion attitudes

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Where abortion restrictions stand: The states that have passed laws

Anti-abortion protest. Photo: SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

The most restrictive abortion laws in generations are being challenged in courts across America's red states, setting up what could be a precedent-smashing Supreme Court challenge to the abortion status quo.

Driving the news: Mississippi's fetal heartbeat law was struck down on Friday, after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 15-week abortion ban was unconstitutional, per AP. The Center for Reproductive Rights, who challenged the ban in court, called the ruling "the first of the recent bans to reach a federal appellate court."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 14, 2019

Federal judge temporarily blocks Alabama abortion bill

Pro-choice protesters gather at the Supreme Court on May 21 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on Tuesday, temporarily halting Alabama's restrictive abortion ban from taking effect on Nov. 15, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The ruling, issued by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, is an "early step in a legal confrontation that critics of abortion orchestrated to try to reach the United States Supreme Court," the Times writes. The legislation would make it a felony for doctors to perform an abortion under almost any circumstance, including rape or incest.

Go deeperArrowOct 29, 2019

Judge blocks rule that denies health services based on moral, religious grounds

A federal judge in New York rejected a Trump administration rule on Wednesday that would have allowed medical workers to deny services based on their religion or ideology, including abortion or sex reassignment surgery.

The big picture: The most restrictive abortion laws in generations are being challenged in courts across America's red states. This rule from the Department of Health and Human Services was challenged by several women's groups and individual states that claimed it was unconstitutional, AP reports.

Go deeper: Planned Parenthood plans massive spending campaign for 2020