UK top court says can't enforce abortion law change in Northern Ireland

UK top court says can't enforce abortion law change in Northern Ireland

UK top court says can't enforce abortion law change in Northern Ireland

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.

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

Because by 4 to 3, the court found itself unable to issue a formal declaration of incompatiblity with the European Convention on Human Rights as the NI Human Rights Commission had brought its action on legal principle rather than basing it on the cases of particular women.

Lord Kerr said that, by a majority of five to two, "the court has expressed the clear view that the law of Northern Ireland on abortion is incompatible with Article 8 of the Convention in relation to cases of fatal foetal abnormality and by a majority of four to three that it is also incompatible with that article in cases of rape and incest".

A termination is now only permitted if there is a serious risk to a woman's life or her health.

Current restrictions force women to either travel to the Great Britain to receive treatment (which over 1,000 women and girls do each year), risk prosecution for procuring illegal online abortion pills, or continue their pregnancies against their wishes and in violation of their rights.

The Supreme Court has today dismissed an attempt to overturn Northern Ireland's pro-life protections.

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.

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Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at the DUP after it insisted Westminster should not meddle with Northern Ireland's strict abortion regime.

Speaking outside The Supreme Court, Ms Ewart said: "I have no regrets whatsoever".

However, a lawmaker from the the main Unionist party, which opposes liberalizing abortion law and also props up the minority British government in London, said he was "delighted with the decision".

"While the case's dismissal means the government is not obliged to change the law, the seven judges have given a strong nod that reform is needed", Marie-Louise Connolly writes.

Because of Northern Ireland legislation, newly-wed Sarah travelled to London for a termination at her own expense, with flights and hotels included, of more than £2,100. United Kingdom lawmakers held an emergency debate on the issue on Tuesday.

Anyone who unlawfully carries out an abortion could be jailed for life.

Mrs O'Neill said she wanted repeal of the relevant sections of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act to ensure abortion was no longer treated as a criminal offence in the region. They want MPs to attend the debate and stress that the democratic process in Northern Ireland be respected.

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