Supreme Court rejects NI abortion law case

BBC News:  

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

The court dismissed an appeal brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC).

But a majority of judges said the existing law was incompatible with human rights law in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and sexual crime.

Unlike other parts of the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.

Currently, a termination is only permitted in Northern Ireland if a woman’s life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health.

The commission lost on the issue of whether they had the required standing to bring the case, and analysts suggest the defeat came because of a technical legal point.

Analysis

By Marie-Louise Connolly, BBC News NI health correspondent

What a bizarre set of circumstances.

On the one hand, the case was dismissed while, on the other, a majority of Supreme Court judges said that Northern Ireland’s abortion law is not compatible with human rights.

So where does that leave Northern Ireland?

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.

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