UK Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal Challenging Northern Ireland Abortion Law
UK Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal Challenging Northern Ireland Abortion Law
Sarah Ewart said she intended to take a case to Belfast's High Court to seek the declaration of incompatibility with human rights law
10 June, 2018, 19:26
"If an individual victim did return to court in relation to the present law, a formal declaration of incompatibility would in all likelihood be made".
While the judges' opinions on Northern Irish abortion law are not binding - since they have technically dismissed the case - they will likely increase political pressure to liberalise the province's laws.
Sarah Ewart, a woman who was forced to travel to the United Kingdom for an abortion after being told her baby would not survive, intervened alongside Amnesty in the case.
Despite not issuing an official ruling, the Supreme Court had delivered a victory for reformist campaigners, said the NICHR.
"The women of Northern Ireland deserve better, they deserve control over their bodies, they deserve not to be forced to court and talk about these issues in order to get government to listen".
"That notion of travelling has to stop", Ms Smyth said. But the National Assembly in Belfast has been suspended for more than a year in a sectarian wrangle, and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which brought forward the legal challenge, has said it is now up to the British Parliament in London to legislate changes.
Sarah Ewart said she meant to take a case to Belfast's High Court to seek the declaration of incompatibility with human rights law.
"However, the Court has indicated how it would have decided the case if the Commission had standing".
"It's unfortunate that human rights law, in the way that it's developing, doesn't acknowledge the fact that there is no right to abortion in global human rights law", she said. The vote is a "rejection of an Ireland that treated women as second-class citizens", she said, adding: "This is about women's equality and this day brings massive change, monumental change for women in Ireland, and there is no going back".
UUP leader Robin Swann urged the DUP to adopt a matter of conscience for members. By the time they could provide her with an abortion, she had developed an infection that quickly killed her. Amnesty is calling for the repeal of sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which would decriminalise abortion and enable a Human Right compliant healthcare framework to be put in place.
Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O'Neill said it was clear that legislative change is needed.
The justices went on to say, however, that a majority finds Northern Ireland'sabortion prohibitions "disproportionate" and that they violate European human rights laws.
"We're very pleased the appeal has been dismissed and we believe that the case should never have been brought in the beginning".
Northern Ireland's elected assembly has the authority to decide on any changes to its abortion laws.
It cited one online provider as reporting that 1,217 women from the island of Ireland received the medical abortion pill from its service past year - while another cited a figure of 878 women.
The number of NI residents having an abortion in England and Wales has generally declined since a peak of 1,855 in 1990.
3,092 women gave an address in the Republic of Ireland at abortion clinics in England and Wales.
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