Socialist Worker

Abortion law ‘breaches’ rights rules Belfast High Court

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2482

The Belfast High Court has ruled that abortion law in Northern Ireland breaches human rights law.

The 1967 Abortion Act allows abortion on a number of grounds in England, Scotland and Wales. But it was never extended to Northern Ireland.

Abortion is covered by a 19th century law.

This makes abortion legal only if a woman’s life is in danger or if there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

The case against the law was brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

The court’s ruling on Monday of last week could lead to women’s right to abortion being extended to victims of sexual crime. It could also lead to cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

The judge said that such women were entitled to exemptions in the law.

The Department of Justice has six weeks to decide whether to appeal against the ruling.

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