Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

U.K. Court Dismisses Challenge to Northern Ireland’s Abortion Law

U.K. Court Dismisses Challenge to Northern Ireland’s Abortion Law

A Belfast woman behind the campaign to have Northern Ireland's abortion law changed says she has "no regrets" after The Supreme Court ruling.

The Northern Ireland Assembly voted in February 2016 against legalising abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and rape or incest.

He said the law in Northern Ireland had been shown to reduce the number of abortions in the jurisdiction, and said: "For that reason I am very thoughtful about any change in the law in Northern Ireland".

If the Supreme Court agrees, it will be up to London and Belfast to find a way to bring Northern Ireland into line with the ruling, setting May on a collision course with the anti-abortion Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

At some point in the future, these past two weeks may come to be seen as a tipping point, the moment when the drive to ease the draconian restrictions on abortion in Northern Ireland became an unstoppable force.

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"All seven judges have also made clear that they would not have allowed abortion on the grounds of a serious malformation of the unborn child".

A termination is only permitted in Northern Ireland if a woman's life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health.

The appeal was brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC).

"The Supreme Court has recognised that denying women access to abortion in these circumstances in inhuman and intolerable".

"All eyes are now on the UK Government", Teggart added. But though some British lawmakers have floated the idea of changing the abortion law directly from London, Prime Minister Theresa May is unlikely to push for such a change.

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The Northern Ireland assembly has not sat for 17 months. "A failure to act would be a cruel betrayal of women". "These are sentient human beings who have every right to life, who have every right to be protected".

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

"Women have been criminalised when they find themselves in very, very hard circumstances, so we welcome that debate but clearly we need to see legislative change here in the north".

The issue is further clouded by the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly, a power-sharing regional government set up by the 1998 Good Friday accord.

Lord Kerr stated that the answer to the breaches of human rights could be achieved through an amendment to the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and the Criminal Justice Act (NI) 1945.

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