Belfast Telegraph

Belfast woman vows to battle 'to the end for' abortion law reform in Northern Ireland

A Belfast woman today pledged to see her legal fight for changes to Northern Ireland's strict abortion regime "through to the end".

Sarah Ewart returned to the High Court for a renewed attempt to have the near-blanket ban declared unlawful.

Five years ago she was forced to travel to England for a termination after being told her unborn child had no chance of survival.

She had backed a previous legal challenge taken by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Unlike other parts of the UK, terminations are only legal within Northern Ireland to protect the woman's life or if there is a risk of serious damage to her well-being.

Earlier this year the Supreme Court concluded abortion laws in the region in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality are incompatible with human rights law.

But justices still rejected the Commission's case because it did not have the necessary legal standing.

Ms Ewart has now launched proceedings in her own name, as a woman directly affected by the abortion legislation.

She is seeking to judicially review the Secretary of State, the Departments of Health and Justice at Stormont, and the Executive Office.

A hearing due to get underway today was instead adjourned until Friday.

Outside court, however, Ms Ewart expressed her determination to continue her battle for a law change for as long as it takes.

"We will see this through to the end," she vowed.

"I'm not done with having a family, and we shouldn't need to be thinking if this happens again where are we going to go, how are we going to bring the remains of our baby home.

"I want to know if I find myself in that position again I will get the care at home, without having to travel."

Ms Ewart also stressed the fifth anniversary of the termination she underwent is only days away. 

"We are still in court, and that shouldn't be the case," she added.

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International, who has supported her campaign, insisted Westminster should step in if there is no functioning Executive at Stormont.

She said: "The call to the UK government is to end the hypocrisy of the position where they will recognise women's rights to a termination f they board a plane.

"Women need access to this service at home."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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