UK's top court says Northern Ireland's abortion ban violates human rights

An activist shows off her campaign badge and T-shirt at the count center as votes are tallied following yesterday's referendum on liberalizing abortion law in Dublin Ireland

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The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by human rights campaigners challenging Northern Ireland's restrictive abortion laws.

"Despite the majority of the judges" ruling that Northern Ireland's abortion law is in clear breach of human rights, a formal declaration of incompatibility - the declaration issued by a United Kingdom court that a statute is incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights - could not be made.

Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr and Lord Wilson said the law is incompatible in restricting abortion in cases of rape and incest and fatal fetal abnormality.

Northern Ireland - unlike every other part of the United Kingdom - criminalizes abortion except when a woman's life or health is in danger.

The NIHRC argued that the current law subjects women to "inhuman and degrading" treatment, causing "physical and mental torture" as it bans abortion in cases of rape, incest, serious foetal anomaly and fatal foetal abnormality.

But Theresa May's government is dependent on Northern Ireland's biggest party the DUP for her majority, they'll be putting pressure on her to stop the attempt.

It means that with Westminster unable or unwilling intervene, a power-sharing deal nowhere in sight and Northern Ireland's two main parties bitterly divided on the issue, changes to the law still seem a long way off. The woman, Amanda Mallet had approached the United Nations asking it to denounce the prohibition on abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities as "cruel and inhumane".

"We're very pleased the appeal has been dismissed and we believe that the case should never have been brought in the beginning".




"If an individual victim did return to court in relation to the present law, a formal declaration of incompatibility would in all likelihood be made".

However, looking historically the number of Northern Ireland residents having an abortion in England and Wales has generally declined since a peak of 1,855 in 1990. In doing so, it has made clear that there is no human right to abortion.

"The analysis and comments from the court on the issue of incompatibility will be clearly heard by this House and politicians in Northern Ireland". If one were to perform or receive an illegal abortion, they could face life in prison.

The referendum reignited a debate about Northern Ireland's law, with some calling for reform while others - including the biggest party, the Democratic Unionist Party - remain opposed to changing the law.

The Supreme Court's majority view was the ban in those specific cases was not compatible with article 8 of the ECHR - the right for respect for private and family life.

The push for the legalization of abortion in Northern Ireland is not a new campaign, and has gained traction with the overturn of an abortion ban in the Republic of Ireland only weeks ago.

However, many pro-life groups in the area have been fighting against the liberalization of abortion laws, emphasizing the importance of fighting for the right to life.

"Unborn children can not speak for themselves so they need us to be their voice". The vote is a "rejection of an Ireland that treated women as second-class citizens", she said, adding: "This is about women's equality and this day brings massive change, monumental change for women in Ireland, and there is no going back".

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