UK top court says it can't demand #abortion law change in #NorthernIreland

Supreme Court rejects NI abortion law appeal

Campaigners: Government not obliged to allow unrestricted early stage abortion

The UK Supreme Court ruling on abortion services in Northern Ireland has been welcomed by campaigners on both sides in the Republic.

Meanwhile, four out of seven judges considering the appeal ruled that the Northern Ireland abortion legislation, which allowed the pregnancy's interruption only in cases where the mother's life was at risk, was incompatible with human rights legislation.

Unlike in other parts of the United Kingdom which are covered by the 1967 Abortion Act, a termination in Northern Ireland is only permitted if a women's life, or permanent mental or physical health is at risk.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland campaigner, said: "The highest court in the land has ruled that the United Kingdom is in breach of its own human rights obligations to women in Northern Ireland who are governed by this draconian law".

Abortion rights activists called the court's ruling on the law's incompatibility a "landmark decision" that would put pressure on the British government to act, while anti-abortion groups emphasised there was no requirement to do so.

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Pressure has been mounting on Northern Ireland to change its laws, which ban abortion in almost all cases, since the Irish referendum cleared the way for the repeal of a constitutional amendment that imposed similar restrictions.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland hold up a placard as they celebrate the result of the referendum on liberalising abortion law, in Dublin, Ireland, May 26, 2018.

Following the referendum vote in the republic and protests in Northern Ireland, all eyes are now on the House of Commons which debated the law earlier in the week. The woman, Amanda Mallet had approached the United Nations asking it to denounce the prohibition on abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities as "cruel and inhumane".

Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where the procedure is banned except in exceptional circumstances.

Mrs Ewart intends to take a case to the High Court in Belfast to seek the formal declaration of incompatibility that the Supreme Court declined to grant on Thursday. The Northern Ireland director of the Royal College of Midwives made a similar comment. In many instances they enrich and bring joy to their families and those who come into contact with them.

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Amnesty International said this must force the UK Government to urgently legislate for change.

Fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest are not circumstances in which abortions can be performed legally.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the NIHRC had questions to answer about the cost of taking the case and why "it made a decision to act beyond its competence in such a sensitive issue".

"To Theresa May, I would say: 'We need change and help".

"When examined closely, providing abortion on such grounds would fly in the face of the Taoiseach's commitment that any new law would be restrictive and that abortion would be rare".

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He said the divisions among Supreme Court justices on the Northern Ireland laws revealed a "complete lack of consensus" on the matter.

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