Traditionally conservative Northern Ireland is about to allow both contraception and same-sex marriage, a head-snap that was forced on the territories of the British Parliament.

The changes, bitterly resisted by anti-abortion and church groups, were mandated by an amendment to the Northern Ireland Routine Governance Bill passed by Parliament in July in the midst of a power vacuum created by the collapse of the region’s governing assembly nearly three years ago.

The amendment will come into effect at midnight on Monday, weeks after the High Court in Belfast overturned a legal challenge and ruled that the 158-year-old abortion legislation in Northern Ireland is incompatible with the United Kingdom’s human rights obligations.

The judgment was a major victory for women’s rights activists who felt left behind after the Republic of Ireland voted to legalize abortion last year.

While Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and most of its people say they would like abortion to be made available, the local power-sharing coalition vetoed the abortion law before it dissolved in 2017 amid sectarian divides. NAN

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