Northern Ireland's abortion law to be challenged in Supreme Court

By agency reporter
October 24, 2017

Amnesty International will be an intervenor in a significant Supreme Court case that starts today (24 October 2017) challenging Northern Ireland’s abortion law.

The case will consider whether Northern Ireland law breaches women’s rights by not allowing abortions in cases of sexual crime and fatal foetal abnormalities.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland campaigns manager, said, “We cannot continue with the intolerable situation that treats women in Northern Ireland as second-class citizens, denying them healthcare and control over their own lives.

“For generations, politicians in Northern Ireland have failed women and failed to protect their rights. It is time for the Supreme Court to step in and do what our government has failed to do – protect the long-neglected human rights of women and girls in a part of the UK.

“The judges of the Supreme Court have a unique chance to put right centuries of human rights abuse. We urge them to take it. The time for change is now.”

Sarah Ewart, whose first pregnancy was given a fatal foetal diagnosis and had to travel to England to terminate her pregnancy as Northern Ireland’s laws did not permit her to receive this healthcare within the region, is also an intervenor alongside Amnesty.

Sarah Ewart said, “I am an ordinary woman who suffered a very personal family tragedy, which the law in Northern Ireland turned into a living nightmare.

“I have joined Amnesty in this fight through the courts because this case is significant to mine and other women’s lives who continue to be affected by the current law in Northern Ireland.

“I feel that we have been abandoned by our government whose duty it is to protect our rights. The failure of our politicians to legislate for change has left me with no option but to turn to the courts to have my rights upheld.

“I hope that the Supreme Court will bring about the change that I and other women so desperately need and have been waiting on for so long.”

In 2015, the Belfast High Court ruled that Northern Ireland abortion law breached women’s rights, but that ruling was then overturned in June 2017.

* Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org.uk/

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