10:06 Thursday, 07 June 2018
“If an individual victim did return to court in relation to the present law, a formal declaration of incompatibility would in all likelihood be made”
A challenge to change Northern Ireland’s abortion law has been thrown out on technical grounds by the UK Supreme Court; however a majority concluded the law breaches the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the Irish Times is reporting.
The seven-judge panel found the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHCR) did not have the competence to challenge the law on abstract grounds.
But it suggested a challenge brought by a victim of the law could be potentially be successful.
Handing down the judgment, the court’s deputy president Lord Mance said: “The challenge to the compatibility of Northern Ireland law with the Convention rights has however been fully argued, and evidence has been put before the Court about a number of specific cases. It would, in the circumstances, be unrealistic and unhelpful to refuse to express the conclusions at which I would have arrived, had I concluded that the Commission had competence to pursue the challenge,”
“I would have concluded, without real hesitation at the end of the day, that the current state of Northern Ireland law is incompatible with article 8 of the Convention, insofar as it prohibits abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape and incest.”
“If an individual victim did return to court in relation to the present law, a formal declaration of incompatibility would in all likelihood be made,” the judgment said.
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 damage to her mental or physical health.