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Women in Northern Ireland should not have to leave to seek abortion, campaigner warns

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Sarah Ewart (third right) arrives with her mother Jane Christie (second left) and Grainne Teggart (third left) of Amnesty International at Belfast's High court for the beginning of her judicial review of Northern Ireland's abortion laws. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Sarah Ewart (third right) arrives with her mother Jane Christie (second left) and Grainne Teggart (third left) of Amnesty International at Belfast's High court for the beginning of her judicial review of Northern Ireland's abortion laws. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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Sarah Ewart (third right) arrives with her mother Jane Christie (second left) and Grainne Teggart (third left) of Amnesty International at Belfast's High court for the beginning of her judicial review of Northern Ireland's abortion laws. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Women seeking abortions in Northern Ireland should receive the help they need without leaving the region, a campaigner has said.

Sarah Ewart from Belfast has pursued a long legal battle over her treatment and is back in court in the city.

She travelled to England for a termination after being told her pregnancy had a fatal foetal diagnosis.

The UK Supreme Court ruled last June that abortion laws in Northern Ireland were in breach of human rights legislation but sent Ms Ewart's case back to the High Court in Belfast on a technicality.

Ms Ewart said: "It is really nerve-wracking but I am really hopeful that the High Court listens to what the Supreme Court has previously said - that women here who find themselves in the circumstances that I found myself in will get the help and the treatment that we need in our hospitals with our own medical teams.

"This is a medical situation that I found myself in; five years down the line I am reliving the stress and the trauma all over again.

"I should not have to be here, sharing my story again, so I am hoping this time will be the final time through the courts, that we will get the help that we need."

Ms Ewart is being supported by Amnesty International, one of five intervenors in the case.

In a judgment last June, five of the seven Supreme Court judges ruled that Northern Ireland's abortion law breached the UK's human rights obligations.

However, they concluded that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission - which brought the case - did not have the power to bring the proceedings forward as it was not itself a "victim" of any unlawful act.

There are four other intervenors in the case: the Human Rights Commission, Humanists UK, Centre for Reproductive Rights and Precious Life.

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