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Woman's right to abortion none of MLAs' business

Published 03/12/2015

As a law student from Northern Ireland studying in England there is always a sense of nervous anticipation when one sees that there is a Northern Irish case on the reading list.

This is not because the judgments are ever faulty - in fact, more often than not the academic community is united in its endorsement of an impressively reasoned piece of writing.

Rather, these cases always seem to share one unifying fact pattern - a flagrant breach of someone's human rights by the Northern Ireland Executive.

On Monday another one of these cases was added to the case law of Northern Ireland as Mr Justice Horner declared that the province's abortion laws are in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

A quote from the summary of the judgment really said it all: "Mr Justice Horner noted that one of the besetting sins of Northern Ireland society is thought to be the need for one section of the community with genuinely held political, religious or moral beliefs not just to have an argument with another section of the community who hold equally strong beliefs and to seek to persuade them by the force of its argument, but to then try to enforce its beliefs upon that other section, often with the support of criminal sanctions."

I could not have put it better myself. As a male I will never have to go through such an awful dilemma. Why should my opinion influence a woman who I have never met, who has carefully weighed the pros and cons of her terrible predicament and come to a conclusion?

Put simply, what a woman chooses to do with her own body is none of my business.

I can only hope that Northern Ireland's politicians might someday come to accept it is none of their business either.

CHRISTOPHER EAMES

Selwyn College, Cambridge

Belfast Telegraph

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