UK court criticizes Northern Ireland abortion law but rejects bid for reform

The UK's highest court dismissed the latest bid to liberalize Northern Ireland's highly restrictive abortion law on T...

Posted: Jun 7, 2018 12:10 PM
Updated: Jun 7, 2018 12:10 PM

The UK's highest court dismissed the latest bid to liberalize Northern Ireland's highly restrictive abortion law on Thursday.

The Supreme Court said it had no jurisdiction to consider the challenge brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) because the proceedings did not involve an identified victim.

But a narrow majority of the seven-strong panel of justices were of "clear opinion" that the current legislation is "incompatible" with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights in cases of fatal fetal abnormality, rape and incest, but not serious fetal abnormality.

The Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Lord Jonathan Hugh Mance, said that "the present law clearly needs radical reconsideration."

NIHRC told the court in October that the current law criminalizes women and girls, subjecting them to "inhuman and degrading" treatment. It had asked the court to rule on whether it was unlawful to prohibit abortions that arise from sexual crimes or cases involving "a serious fetal abnormality."

After the Irish republic's overwhelming abortion referendum result in late May, Northern Ireland is now the only area of the British Isles where termination is only permitted if there is a risk to the woman's life or if there are long-term or permanent threats to a woman's mental or physical health.

The republic's constitutional reform had spurred questions over whether there should be a similar change to the law in Northern Ireland.

Decisions on abortion law are the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly, but it has been suspended for more than a year because of a political impasse. But despite the hiatus, the UK government has said it will not intervene on the issue.

The minority government of British Prime Minister Theresa May relies for its survival in the UK parliament on support from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a deeply conservative party from Northern Ireland that opposes any attempt to ease restrictions on abortion.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said last week that the referendum in the republic had "no impact upon the law in Northern Ireland."

Pressure falls on UK PM

Shortly after the ruling, NIHRC Chief Commissioner Les Allamby said in a statement: "The highest court in the UK has today agreed with the Commission that Northern Ireland's laws on termination of pregnancy are incompatible with human rights."

Allamby said that Thursday's proceedings made it clear that Northern Ireland needs to reform its termination laws and called on the UK government to intervene.

"The law now needs to change to stop women and girls from further anxiety and suffering. In the absence of the NI Executive and Assembly it falls to the UK government to make this change and it must act without delay," he added.

More than 160 lawmakers, including some Conservatives, have written to May demanding she allow a referendum on relaxing the abortion laws in Northern Ireland. The UK's Royal College of Midwives has also said it supports such a move.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35237

Reported Deaths: 2197
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9978592
Lake3689200
Allen171170
Cass15927
Elkhart138428
St. Joseph130934
Hendricks117773
Hamilton117093
Johnson1117110
Madison59461
Porter54729
Bartholomew52138
Clark51941
LaPorte43424
Howard42934
Tippecanoe4184
Jackson3942
Delaware38540
Shelby37522
Hancock34528
Floyd31940
Boone31635
Vanderburgh2842
Morgan28124
Montgomery24416
Noble23821
Clinton2381
White2389
Decatur22531
Grant21923
Dubois2023
Harrison19622
Henry18412
Vigo1718
Dearborn16921
Monroe16912
Greene16925
Warrick16628
Lawrence16524
Kosciusko1561
Miami1411
Putnam1377
Jennings1314
Orange13022
Marshall1282
Scott1213
Franklin1108
Ripley1086
Daviess9416
LaGrange932
Carroll933
Wayne855
Steuben852
Wabash792
Newton7810
Fayette787
Jasper681
Jay530
Washington511
Clay512
Fulton491
Rush483
Randolph483
Pulaski470
Jefferson461
Whitley433
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen341
Perry330
Brown331
Benton320
Wells320
Knox290
Huntington282
Blackford272
Tipton251
Crawford240
Fountain222
Switzerland210
Spencer211
Adams201
Gibson172
Parke170
Posey160
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin120
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0175

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36350

Reported Deaths: 2259
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5996279
Cuyahoga4581245
Hamilton2721156
Marion267430
Lucas2282252
Pickaway209237
Summit1475180
Mahoning1456186
Butler91932
Columbiana88152
Stark74398
Lorain70259
Montgomery68816
Trumbull58450
Belmont43813
Warren38321
Miami36130
Medina35623
Tuscarawas3524
Ashtabula34035
Delaware34013
Portage32957
Lake30912
Fairfield3017
Wood30047
Clark2987
Geauga29233
Wayne28151
Licking25810
Mercer2177
Clermont2155
Allen21233
Richland2053
Darke18123
Erie17816
Madison1577
Washington11819
Crawford1164
Morrow1071
Ottawa10318
Greene1025
Putnam9314
Sandusky8211
Monroe7914
Auglaize753
Ross732
Hocking705
Jefferson662
Hardin610
Huron601
Williams551
Union521
Muskingum521
Hancock511
Holmes451
Wyandot452
Fulton440
Shelby433
Clinton431
Coshocton410
Fayette400
Logan400
Preble391
Guernsey362
Defiance342
Carroll313
Lawrence300
Champaign281
Brown281
Highland261
Knox251
Seneca212
Vinton212
Ashland200
Perry191
Athens181
Scioto170
Henry160
Paulding140
Jackson140
Harrison100
Adams101
Gallia81
Pike80
Van Wert70
Meigs60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 80°
Angola
Few Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 75°
Huntington
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 80°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 86°
Van Wert
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 86°
Scattered Storms Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events