Northern Ireland's Women Can't Access Free Abortions In England, Supreme Court Rules

Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws are set to be challenged in the High Court.

The challenge, taken by Belfast woman Sarah Ewart, comes after the Supreme Court found that abortion laws in the region are in breach of human rights legislation.

Ms Ewart says she was forced to travel to England for an abortion after being told her pregnancy had a fatal foetal diagnosis.

We're back in court this week supporting Sarah Ewart @MrsEtoB challenge to NI #abortion law. Amnesty is an intervenor in the case. Full info at the link below. Legal team @darraghmackin @PhoenixLawHR & Adam Straw @DoughtyStreet https://t.co/HwGnvMQuiR #NowForNI #ItsTime pic.twitter.com/B8g6wLQeI1

— Grainne Teggart (@GTeggart) January 28, 2019

She said she hopes this is the last time she will have to go to court.

“Time and time again I’ve told my story to MPs, courtrooms and judges,” she said.

“Each time I re-live the trauma. I hope this will be the last time I have to go to court and prove that women like me should be able to access abortion services at home, without being forced to travel.

“I hope this case can bring a ruling that helps end the suffering for us all.”

Sarah Ewart right speaks to the media outside the Supreme Court in Westminster last June (PA Archive)

Ms Ewart is being supported by Amnesty International, one of five intervenors in the case.

In a Supreme Court judgment last June, five of the seven UK Supreme Court judges ruled that Northern Ireland’s abortion law breaches the UK’s human rights obligations.

However, it concluded that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (the body that brought the case) did not have the power to bring the proceedings forward, as it was not itself a “victim” of any unlawful act.

Amnesty’s Northern Ireland Campaign Manager Grainne Teggart paid tribute to Ms Ewart for having “bravely stepped up to be the individual who takes the case to the court”.

“It’s a damning indictment on the UK Government’s failure to prioritise women’s rights and healthcare that women like Sarah are forced through the ordeal of the courts to have their rights vindicated,” she said.

“Last June, the UK’s Supreme Court made clear that the UK was in breach of its human rights obligations, but the final judgment couldn’t be made because an individual hadn’t brought the case forward. Sarah has bravely stepped up to be the individual who takes the case to the court.

“This hearing is our opportunity for an official judgment that Northern Ireland’s abortion law breaches the UK’s human rights commitments.

“It’s a huge moment. People everywhere will have their fingers crossed with hope that the Belfast court rules in favour of women’s rights and reproductive freedom.”

There are four other intervenors in this case, including the Human Rights Commission, Humanists UK, Centre for Reproductive Rights and Precious Life.

Human Rights Commission chief commissioner Les Allamby also paid tribute to Ms Ewart for taking the case.

Les Allamby Chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission speaking to the media outside the Supreme Court in Westminster last June (PA Archive)

“Ideally, Sarah should not have had to take this individual case as the matter should have been resolved by the Westminster Parliament,” he said.

“It is completely unacceptable that women and girls continue to face being criminalised in what should be solely a healthcare matter.

“We are intervening in today’s case as we want the violations of Sarah’s human rights to be addressed and the many other women and girls, who deserve better, to be protected in the future.”

Catholic Candle-Light Rosary Vigil taking place this evening at 7.30pm outside the Royal Courts of Justice at Chichester Street, Belfast, before a Case being heard tomorrow. #PrayerCanChangeEverything pic.twitter.com/ZhHxTAezXj

— Precious Life (@PreciousLifeCom) January 29, 2019

A candle-lit vigil had been due to take place outside the High Court on Tuesday evening by pro-life campaigners who are opposed to Northern Ireland’s abortion laws being changed.

- Press Association

Source : https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/northern-irelands-abortion-laws-challenged-in-high-court-901040.html

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