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UK Supreme Court majority finds N.Ireland abortion law violates human rights

10 June 2018, 04:22 | Taylor George

Stella Creasy in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon Credit

Stella Creasy in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon  Credit

Human-rights campaigners lost their case over the legality of Northern Ireland's abortion law on a technicality.

Strict Northern Ireland laws that prohibit abortions in cases of pregnancy as a result of incest or rape, and in cases when the fetus has a likely fatal abnormality, have drawn scrutiny since the Republic of Ireland voted overwhelmingly in May to repeal its own strict laws.

The Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Lord Jonathan Hugh Mance, said that "the present law clearly needs radical reconsideration".

"The commission had argued the law criminalizes vulnerable women and girls and subjects them to inhumane and degrading treatment in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights", NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.

"It's my strong, personal, view that it is completely unsustainable for us to have a different law from the south on abortion".

Currently, women can only access an abortion in Northern Ireland if their life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to physical or mental health.

"I am proud of that pro-life position, I am proud of the fact that there are so many people alive in Northern Ireland today because we have a law that respects the rights of both women and of the unborn child and we will maintain that position".

"The Supreme Court judges have a unique chance to put right centuries of human rights abuse in Northern Ireland".

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"This is hugely significant and makes clear there is nowhere left for the government to hide on this issue".

This surely means the UK Government must now act to change the law. Theresa May can no longer sit back and do nothing whilst countless women continue to suffer on her watch. "A failure to act would be a cruel betrayal of women".

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.

Mr Corbyn said: "I would say very politely to Arlene Foster, you were elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, maybe you should play your part in ensuring that Assembly functions and we get a devolved administration working in Northern Ireland".

"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".

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.

Speaking in the Commons for the Government, Ms Bradley said she personally wanted to see reform, but said it was "a matter for the people of Northern Ireland".



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