Northern Ireland’s strong protections for women and unborn children have been repealed.
The Christian Institute – which has consistently defended the protections – described the move as “desperately bad news”.
Northern Ireland’s law on marriage is also set to change, with the first same-sex marriages expected to take place in February next year.
Two consultations – one on each issue – are expected to be launched by the Westminster Government in the coming weeks.
Westminster politicians voted in July to impose the new regime if a Northern Ireland Executive was not in place by yesterday.
Despite some politicians reconvening at Stormont yesterday to oppose the measure, there was insufficient cross-party consensus to block the move. This meant the radical change to abortion law came into force from midnight.
Many lives saved
Callum Webster, Northern Ireland Officer for The Christian Institute, attended a pro-life event at Stormont yesterday. He said: “This is a deeply sad day for Northern Ireland.
“Our existing pro-life laws have protected many lives.
“Approximately 100,000 people are alive today because the 1967 Abortion Act was not introduced here.
“Now Westminster politicians are exploiting the Assembly’s suspension to impose a liberal abortion regime.”
He added: “I commend those MLAs and parties who have attempted to protect the lives of our unborn children.
“Sadly other local politicians boycotted the efforts and thereby ensured that decisions about our abortion laws will be taken by Westminster.
“Now the Secretary of State will start a process of drawing up new legislation to replace our pro-life legal framework.
“This is desperately bad news for Northern Ireland. Abortion is not ‘good healthcare’ for women and destroys the lives of the most vulnerable in our society.”
Regulations on same-sex marriage will be produced before 13 January 2020.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith, said new laws on abortion will be place by the end of March next year.
In the intervening period, guidance from the Government allows children with disabilities to be aborted.
In practice, women in Northern Ireland seeking an abortion are still likely to have to travel to England until a new framework is in place.