Friday 16 November 2018

UK judges refuse to strike down current law in North

Activists Sarah Ewart (centre) and Grainne Teggart (left) outside court in London where the North’s abortion law was challenged. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA
Activists Sarah Ewart (centre) and Grainne Teggart (left) outside court in London where the North’s abortion law was challenged. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Dean Grey

Pressure to reform Northern Irish abortion laws has increased after UK Supreme Court judges said they were incompatible with human rights legislation.

In a majority decision, it was ruled that the ban on terminations in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality needed "radical reconsideration".

But it rejected a challenge to current legislation by the NI Human Rights Commission on a technicality.

While the court expressed a view that the current regime is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, it did not go so far as to make a formal declaration of incompatibility - a move that would probably have forced a law change.

Downing Street has insisted the judgment did not change its view that the issue should be dealt with by a restored devolved Assembly.

The ruling was welcomed by both sides here.

Together For Yes co-founder Ailbhe Smyth believed the case was lost on a technicality. She said she hoped to see abortion legislated for in Northern Ireland in the next few years and believed the success of the campaign in the State had been encouraging for women and campaigners north of the Border.

"I know it gives them heart," she said.

Cora Shelock, of the pro-life campaign in Dublin, also welcomed the decision for the reason that there will not be a legal requirement to change the laws in the North.

"Because the 1967 Abortion Act was not extended to Northern Ireland, there are 100,000 people alive as a result," she said.

Irish Independent

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