Wednesday 16 January 2019

Abortion is 'matter for Stormont' in North - court

Cathy Gordon

Northern Ireland's criminal law on abortion is a matter for the "democratic judgment" of the legislature, the UK's highest court has heard.

The Stormont Executive's senior legal adviser, Attorney General John Larkin QC, made the submission to Supreme Court justices in London as he contested a human rights challenge against the legality of the current law on termination of pregnancy.

Mr Larkin said: "There seems little doubt that the debate about what the law on abortion in Northern Ireland should be will continue.

"Litigation may be apt for resolving concrete disputes, but it is inapt for the resolution of larger societal questions."

The court heard from Mr Larkin on the second day of an appeal by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC). The court has previously heard from the NIHRC's lawyer that the strict abortion law criminalises "exceptionally vulnerable" women and girls and subjects them to "inhuman and degrading" treatment.

Unlike other parts of the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland. Abortion is illegal except where a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious danger to her mental or physical health.

Irish Independent

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