United Kingdom court criticizes Northern Ireland abortion law but rejects bid for reform

During proceedings in October, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) told the court the current law criminalises "exceptionally vulnerable" women and girls and subjects them to "inhuman and degrading" treatment.

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. Theresa May can no longer sit back and do nothing whilst countless women continue to suffer on her watch.

"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". It can not wait for the Northern Ireland Assembly to reconvene and potentially act - it must now act itself. The court dismissed the case without taking action.

The Supreme Court judges said it would have required the case to have been brought by a woman who was pregnant as a result of sexual crime or who was carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality. "A failure to act would be a cruel betrayal of women".

The UK's highest court is set to rule on a challenge over the legality of Northern Ireland's strict abortion law.

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

"Nine-point-two million people have had their lives terminated through abortion in Britain since 1967", he said.

Sarah Ewart said: "I'm not only doing this for me, but for every woman who may find themselves in my situation". The Victorian law governing abortion in Northern Ireland, the 1861 Offenses Against the Persons Act, is one of the most restrictive in Europe.

"We recognize there are strongly-held views on all sides of the debate in Northern Ireland and that's why our focus is on restoring that democratically accountable, devolved government", Downing Street said after the meeting. "Those responsible for ensuring the compatibility of Northern Irish law, will no doubt recognise and take account of these conclusions...by considering how to amend the law, in the light of the ongoing suffering being caused by it".

'The need for amendment is evident... the present legislative position in Northern Ireland is untenable and intrinsically disproportionate in excluding from any possibility of abortion pregnancies involving fatal foetal abnormality or due to rape or incest... 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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