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N Ireland abortion law 'incompatible' with human rights

By Tom Acres, news reporter
Abortion restrictions in Northern Ireland have caused "ongoing suffering" and are "incompatible" with human rights laws, the Supreme Court has said.
The highest court in the UK delivered its judgment on Thursday morning as pressure continued to mount on the prime minister to intervene on the issue.The court said it did not have the jurisdiction to make a formal declaration that the law should be changed, and ruled that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) had no right to bring its case against the abortion law.But a majority of justices agreed that the law was in breach of article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights.:: Sky Views: Abortion reform would secure PM's feminist legacy
N Ireland abortion law 'incompatible' with human rights

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Supreme Court President Lord Mance said the restrictions were a cause of "ongoing suffering" and "clearly need radical consideration".He also suggested that "a victim of the existing law would have standing to pursue similar proceedings" to those addressed on Thursday."Those responsible for ensuring the compatibility of Northern Ireland law with the convention rights will no doubt recognise and take account of these conclusions," he added.The view expressed by the court saw further calls for Theresa May to act, despite the government's DUP confidence-and-supply deal making the prospect of intervention unlikely.
N Ireland abortion law 'incompatible' with human rights

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The PM has been under pressure since the Republic of Ireland voted in a referendum last month to ease restrictions in its abortion law.Labour MP Stella Creasy secured an urgent question in the House of Commons following the Supreme Court hearing and told colleagues "our own law is breaking the basic human rights of our own citizens".Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said the government was "carefully considering" the Supreme Court judgement, but stressed that no formal declaration had been made and that the appeal had been dismissed.She added: "While the court made no formal declaration, a majority of judges stated their view that the laws of abortion in Northern Ireland are incompatible with article eight of the European Convention of Human Rights."This is clearly a complex area of law and extremely sensitive subject matter that raises a number of different issues to consider.":: UK abortion laws aren't as simple as you'd think
N Ireland abortion law 'incompatible' with human rights

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Yes campaigners hold posters calling for Northern Ireland to liberalise its strict abortion laws
Mrs Bradley stressed that her "urgent priority" was trying to re-establish a power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland "so decisions can be taken there".
Last year, the Court of Appeal ruled that even if the abortion law did violate human rights, it could only be changed by a devolved government. With none in place, the prime minister has been forced to resist calls for intervention.On Mrs Bradley's insistence that abortion is "a devolved matter" for Northern Ireland, Ms Creasy responded: "Clearly, this ruling challenges that disregard for the human rights of women in Northern Ireland."
N Ireland abortion law 'incompatible' with human rights

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Labour MP Stella Creasy has repeatedly spoken out on the issue
She continued: "The women of Northern Ireland deserve better, they deserve control over their bodies."They deserve not to be forced to go to court and talk about these issues in order to get the government to listen."They deserve the kind of control that Arlene Foster currently has over this government."In an impassioned plea, Ms Creasy continued: "Human rights are an international obligation. Minister, I beg of you, don't make a victim go to court."
N Ireland abortion law 'incompatible' with human rights

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Former Tory cabinet minister Justine Greening urged Mrs Bradley to accept that parliament, in the absence of an administration at Stormont, should look at what steps it can take.The Commons exchange came after Les Allamby, the chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland human rights commission, told reporters the outcome had brought "greater clarity" to the country's abortion law."The law now needs to change to stop women and girls from further anxiety and suffering," he said outside the court."In the absence of the Northern Ireland executive and assembly it falls to the UK government to make this change and it must act without delay."
N Ireland abortion law 'incompatible' with human rights

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (r) and deputy leader Michelle O'Neill (l) have piled pressure on the PM
But while pro-choice campaigners saw the court's decision as further reason to push for a change to the law, those on the other side of the argument viewed it as reason to draw a line under the debate.Both Lives Matter co-founder Dawn McAvoy said: "It is not a moment to celebrate, but rather to pause and be thankful for the lives this judgment will save."The Supreme Court has dismissed the case brought by the Human Rights Commission. In doing so, it has made clear that there is no human right to abortion."
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Bernadette Smyth, director of Precious Life, said: "What happened here today was upholding democracy. This court made a ruling that this court has no right to make decisions for Northern Ireland."Our laws matter because every life matters."
news.sky.com
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