Supreme Court rejects attempt to liberalise Northern Ireland abortion law

This is because the court found that the Northern Irish Human Rights Commission (the body that brought the case) did not have the power to bring these proceedings forward, as it was not itself a "victim' of any unlawful act".

The appeal judges said the law in Northern Ireland should be left to the Stormont Assembly and not judges, saying the complex moral and religious questions behind the issue should be determined by a legislature rather than a court.

"Until such times as the legal framework caters for what are very basic human rights, our client, Sarah Ewart, has made it clear that she will continue to take the case to the highest level to ensure that no woman has to go through the traumatic experience in which she was so forced".

Human rights group did not have standing to make appeal, court rules.

"It's my strong, personal, view that it is completely unsustainable for us to have a different law from the south on abortion".

"This must be the final nail in the coffin for Northern Ireland's abortion ban". Since the Irish referendum was approved, British Prime Minister Theresa May has dealt with mounting pressure to reform Northern Ireland's abortion statutes.

Earlier Theresa May met Conservative MPs pressing for changes to Northern Ireland's abortion laws amid calls for an emergency debate on the issue. "A failure to act would be a cruel betrayal of women".


"As such, the court does not have jurisdiction to make a declaration of incompatibility [with human rights law] in this case", the court said in a summary of the decision.

Ewart, right, has said she intends to bring the case to Belfast's High Court.

"This is a landmark decision that I hope will lead to changes that will improve the lives of women in Northern Ireland and the care they receive".

The current law has "a significant chilling effect" on women seeking abortions and medical professionals who may wish to help them, he added. "What we need is compassion and services in Northern Ireland". "A majority of the court does however consider that the current law in Northern Ireland is disproportionate and incompatible with Art 8 ECHR insofar as that law prohibits abortion in cases of (a) fatal foetal abnormality, (b) pregnancy as a result of rape and (c) pregnancy as a result of incest".

But that decision was overturned in June a year ago by three of Northern Ireland's most senior judges.

Lord Manse stated: "the present law clearly needs radical reconsideration". Amnesty believes that the forthcoming Domestic Violence Bill is the vehicle to achieve this change.


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