Northern Ireland’s abortion law breaches the UK’s human rights commitments, the High Court ruled.
The High Court ruling has just been received after Sarah Ewart challenged the current law when she was refused a termination.
Northern Irish laws only allow a termination if a woman’s life is considered to be at risk or if there is perceived risk of permanent/severe damage to her health.
Requests for terminations in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis (where a professional opinion is that medics believe that a baby will die before, during or following birth) are not considered reasons for a legal abortion in Northern Ireland.
Mrs Ewart was told by doctors in 2013 that the foetus would not survive after birth. She was denied a termination, but then travelled to England for the procedure and has since cam-paigned with others to have Northern Ireland’s laws changed for cases where fatal foetal ab-normalities are detected.
The High Court judge today ruled in favour of Mrs Ewart stating that it would be wrong for another woman to also be subjected to the trauma that she herself had already experienced.
In 2018 the Supreme Court ruled that Northern Ireland’s abortion laws were found to contra-dict the human rights standards. Given this, the question raised is whether Mrs Ewart should have had to take her case to Court in the first place? Should the Supreme Court ruling not have led to a change in the laws as a result?
Today’s ruling could prove a milestone in the ongoing review of Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.
We will update on this as developments are made.