Top judge: NI abortion law inflicts 'inhuman' treatment on women
Top judge: NI abortion law inflicts 'inhuman' treatment on women
Conservative MP Heidi Allen gave an emotional speech to the chamber
08 June, 2018, 08:31
In 2015, the High Court ruled that abortion legislation in Northern Ireland did violate human rights under European Union law.
But a majority of the seven-strong panel of justices in London expressed the "clear opinion" that the current legislation is incompatible with European human rights laws in the cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape and incest.
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission had argued that the law should be changed to allow abortions in cases where pregnancies were as a result of rape or incest, or in cases where the fetus had a fatal abnormality.
NIHRC told the court in October that the current law criminalizes women and girls, subjecting them to "inhuman and degrading" treatment.
Belfast's High Court made a declaration in December 2015 that the law was incompatible with Article 8 of the ECHR - the right to respect for private and family life - because of the absence of exceptions to the general prohibition on abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities and pregnancies resulting from sexual offences.
"Abortion has been a devolved matter in Northern Ireland since it was created in 1921, and it would not be appropriate for Westminster to seek to impose its will, or to be the arbiter of an issue that has always been devolved to the people of Northern Ireland". One group of activists drove around Northern Ireland distributing abortion pills.
LONDON-Britain's Supreme Court rejected a legal bid Thursday to overturn Northern Ireland's near-total ban on abortions, but set the stage for future challenges.
Abortion is illegal except where a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious danger to her mental or physical health.
Although the decision of the court appears highly-complex, Lady Hale also suggested that the law on abortion in Northern Ireland is no more confusing than other legal positions. Theresa May can no longer sit back and do nothing whilst countless women continue to suffer on her watch.
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".
The decision comes after the Republic of Ireland voted to repeal its Eighth Amendment, legalising abortion for Irish women up to 12 weeks after conception "with no restriction as to reason". "A failure to act would be a cruel betrayal of women".
"We welcome the clear position taken by the Government in respecting the right of the Assembly to legislate on abortion, reflecting the will of the people of Northern Ireland".
But the Department of Justice at Stormont and Northern Ireland's attorney general challenged the judgment and won the appeal.
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