Supreme Court rejects NI abortion law appeal

Supreme Court rejects NI abortion law appeal

Supreme Court rejects NI abortion law appeal

Human rights campaigners arrived at the UK's Supreme Court this morning after a 3 year legal battle to change Northern Ireland's ban on abortion.

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission had challenged the law in court.

Pro-choice campaigners demanded action after a majority of Supreme Court judges said the ban on terminations in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality needed "radical reconsideration".

It is only permitted if a woman's life is at risk, or there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

She said May has an obligation to make sure the United Kingdom government is "now longer acting unlawfully by breaching the human rights of women across Northern Ireland".

"This is a victory, a historic landmark for women's rights in Northern Ireland", David Russell, chief executive of the rights group, said, adding that the Supreme Court's dismissal on technical grounds did not diminish its significance.

The UK Government has resisted calls to step in and legislate, insisting that any decision on abortion in the region has to be taken by locally elected politicians at Stormont.

The referendum called for a change in Ireland's abortion laws.


The judges said the case should have been brought by a woman pregnant as a result of a crime or carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said: "No formal declaration has been made by the court and the appeal has been dismissed. What now will happen is that we have issued proceedings in today in Belfast in Sarah's name to have that formal declaration made and our work will continue at Westminster to ensure that long overdue legislative change happens", she said.

However, looking historically the number of Northern Ireland residents having an abortion in England and Wales has generally declined since a peak of 1,855 in 1990.

The number means women and girls from the Republic of Ireland accounted for over six in 10 (64.3%) of non-resident abortions a year ago.

The judges decided, however, that they could not officially issue a ruling as the NICHR could only bring cases through specific victims, not on general principles.

"In making their claim, the judges frequently refer to A, B, and C v Ireland as a basis for their findings but ignore paragraph 214 of the majority opinion which states that article 8 can not be interpreted as conferring a right to access abortion".

Candle and flowers are placed in front of a mural of Savita Halappanavar in Dublin as Ireland has voted to repeal the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution which prohibits abortions unless a mother's life is in danger.

"Unborn children can not speak for themselves so they need us to be their voice". Had she been in a country with a less restrictive abortion law, she could have sought the procedure much earlier. "There is a right to life in the whole process of human rights law". The vote is a "rejection of an Ireland that treated women as second-class citizens", she said, adding: "This is about women's equality and this day brings massive change, monumental change for women in Ireland, and there is no going back".

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