Judge orders NI to relax ban on abortions
THE ban on abortion in Northern Ireland could be eased after a judge yesterday ruled that it breached human rights laws.
Women should have legal terminations if their unborn child was unlikely to survive or if they were pregnant following a rape or incest, said Mr Justice Mark Horner.
He said the current guidelines that offered abortions only to women if their life was at risk breached Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In the case of a woman with a fatally damaged foetus, the current law was ‘a gross interference with her personal autonomy’, he told Belfast High Court. He said in such cases there is ‘no life to protect’, adding: ‘When the foetus leaves the womb, it cannot survive independently. It is doomed.’
For female victims of sex crimes, the judge said the law ‘completely ignores the personal circumstances of the victim’.
Northern Ireland is not covered by the 1967 Abortion Act which made abortion commonplace in the rest of the UK.
The hearing was lodged following an application by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which called the ruling ‘historic’. However, anti-abortion group Precious Life said it would ‘open the floodgates’ for widespread terminations.