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After midnight there will be a moratorium on criminal prosecutions, halting police investigations into abortion cases, including a case against a mother who faced jail for buying her then 15-year-old daughter abortion pills online, said Amnesty.

Monday’s sitting was the first time the assembly had sat for nearly three years.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith told MPs on Monday that the first same-sex marriages in Northern Ireland will be in the week of Valentine’s Day 2020.

“The beginning of a new era for Northern Ireland – one in which we’re free from oppressive laws that have policed our bodies and healthcare,” said Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland campaign manager.

“Thank you to everyone who has told their stories to help us reach this milestone,” tweeted Love Equality NI, an umbrella group that campaigned for marriage equality. “A historic moment,” said the advocacy group Stonewall.

The DUP also walked out, saying this was not the end of the matter.

Mrs Foster said it was a “shameful day” which would leave Northern Ireland with Europe’s most liberal abortion laws.


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