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Jim Carroll BS: The NI Battle commences (45) RE: BS: The NI Battle commences 08 Jun 18


Interesting clarification of the Supreme Court decision - from anarticle in this morningg's Irish Times reporting that a Belfast woman is intending to take the appeal further
Jim Carroll


The supreme court yesterday dismissed on technical grounds a challenge taken by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) against Northern Ireland’s abortion laws but a majority concluded they breached the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Abstract grounds
The seven-judge panel found the NIHRC did not have the competence to challenge the law on abstract grounds but suggested a challenge brought by a victim of the law could be successful.
Amnesty Northern Ireland spokeswoman Grainne Teg gart said: “Despite the fact that there wasn’t an identified ‘victim’ in this case, the judges felt so strongly that the evi¬dence showed that Northern Ireland’s abortion law breaches women’s rights, that they dis¬pensed with procedure and set out their conclusions anyway.
“If there’s any testament that we need to get rid of this inhumane abortion ban, it’s that. We’ll now finish what we started by taking this to the Belfast High Court to demand it makes the final formal declaration.”
In his judgment, Lord Mance - the court’s deputy president - stated that the current 150-year-old law in Northern Ireland was “untenable” and in need of “radical reconsidera¬tion” due to the “ongoing suffering” it caused.
While the legal challenge could not be taken on technical grounds, he said: “I would have concluded, without real hesita¬tion at the end of the day, that
// Lord Mance WW stated that the current 150-year-old law in Northern Ireland was ‘untenable'
the current state of Northern Ireland law is incompatible with article 8 of the Conven¬tion, insofar as it prohibits abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape and incest.”
Unlike other parts of the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.
Jailed for life
Northern Ireland only permits abortion in cases where a woman’s life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent and serious dainage to her mental or physi¬cal health. Anyone who unlaw¬fully carries out an abortion could be jailed for life.
The NIHRC challenged the law on the basis that it was incompatible with article 3 (the
prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treat¬ment), article 8 (the right of everyone to respect for their private and family life) and article 14 (the prohibition of discrimination) of the ECHR.
The court found that the NIHRC did not have standing to bring the proceedings.
“If an individual victim did return to court in relation to the present law, a formal declara¬tion of incompatibility would in all likelihood be made,” the judgment said.


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