North Ireland abortion law illegal: U.K. court

Supreme Court rejects NI abortion law appeal

Campaigners: Government not obliged to allow unrestricted early stage abortion

Human rights campaigners have lost a Supreme Court appeal over the legality of Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

Pro-abortion campaigners are already jumping on the fact that a narrow majority of judges have suggested that the law in Northern Ireland breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

Judges are now pointing out that Northern-Ireland's abortion law violates human rights as the law that forbids women to terminate their pregnancy, dates back to the 19th century. Popularly known as the eighth amendment in the Irish constitution, the law recognises equal right to life for both mother and the foetus, effectively prohibiting termination of pregnancy for any reason.

A majority of the judges said the law is incompatible with the right to respect for private and family life as guaranteed by the convention.

The court ruling, which comes on the heels of a hotly contested referendum in the Republic of Ireland in which voters overwhelmingly voted to end a near-total ban on abortion in the Irish constitution, means any further efforts to change Northern Ireland's abortion laws will have to go through the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast.

Pressure has been mounting on Northern Ireland to change its laws, which ban abortion in almost all cases, since the Irish referendum cleared the way for the repeal of a constitutional amendment that imposed similar restrictions.

Sarah Ewart at the Supreme Court
Sarah Ewart at the Supreme Court

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, said the government is "carefully considering" the court's decision and that it "will be clearly heard by this house and politicians in Northern Ireland".

Sarah Ewart has campaigned for a change to Northern Ireland's law in cases of fatal foetal abnormality after she travelled to England for an abortion in 2013 after being told her unborn child would not survive outside the womb.

The judges said the case should have been brought by a woman pregnant as a result of a crime or carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality. But as Lord Kerr himself said, 'These findings do not represent a binding decision of the of the court.the essential decision of the court.is that the appeal is dismissed and no formal declaration of incompatibility has been made'. If one were to perform or receive an illegal abortion, they could face life in prison. "Change on this is needed and needed now", Breedagh Hughes, Royal College of Midwives Director for Northern Ireland, said in a statement. "Today I believe we have voted for the next generation", he said. "For these reasons, we concluded that the blanket ban on abortion in cases of rape was plainly disproportionate".

"I personally have been doing this for five years, and five years is too long".

"No binding United Nations treaty has ever suggested that there is an global right to access abortion". Following her death, people took to streets to call for immediate reforms in the country's abortion laws.

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