Northern Ireland’s strict abortion law ‘is in BREACH of human rights’

Northern Ireland’s strict abortion law is in BREACH of Britain’s human rights commitments, Belfast High Court rules after challenge from woman who was forced to end pregnancy in London

Northern Ireland’s strict abortion law breaches the UK’s human rights commitments, the High Court in Belfast has ruled. 

The case was taken to court by Sarah Ewart, who challenged the law after she was denied a termination and was forced to travel to a London clinic.

The 29-year-old had been told by doctors that her unborn child would die in the womb or shortly after birth.

Justice Siobhan Keegan said she had ruled in Mrs Ewart’s favour after praising her ‘compelling’ personal testimony.

The judge followed the ruling of the Supreme Court that abortion law in Northern Ireland was incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

She said Ms Ewart had legal standing to challenge the law.

The judge will hear further submissions before deciding what action to take.

She said Ms Ewart had been affected by the current law.

The judge said: ‘She has had to modify her behaviour in that she could not have medical treatment in Northern Ireland due to the risk of criminal prosecution.

‘She may be actively affected in the future. In my view her personal testimony is not disputed.’

Ms Ewart said: ‘It is a massive emotional relief. This has not been an easy journey. It is a massive victory.

‘It has been a massive stress emotionally on the family but six years later let’s enjoy today.’

The judge said the prospect that another young woman would be required to pursue litigation and face the same ‘trauma and pain’ should be avoided in future.

She said: ‘I cannot see that this would serve any benefit or it would be right to ask another woman to re-live the trauma.’

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