Belfast Telegraph

Legal challenge to Northern Ireland’s abortion law to begin Tuesday

An appeal against Northern Ireland's strict abortion law is to be heard in London tomorrow.

The Supreme Court will hear a case brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which claims the current law with regards to cases of rape, incest, or serious foetal anomaly is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

At present abortion is unlawful in Northern Ireland, carrying a potential sentence of up to life imprisonment - unless it is necessary to preserve the life of the woman.

In 2015/16, 16 abortions were performed in Northern Ireland, which together with the previous year represents the lowest number on record.

In 2016, 724 women from Northern Ireland travelled to England for abortion care.

In 2015, a High Court judge in Northern Ireland ruled that the current law was in breach of the ECHR in cases of fatal abnormalities or where woman are pregnant as a result of sexual crime.

The Northern Ireland Department of Justice and the Attorney General successfully appealed this ruling. Consequently, the NIHRC has taken their case to the Supreme Court.

The Northern Ireland Life and Times survey, published in June 2017, found that the majority of respondents supported allowing abortion in cases of fatal foetal anomaly (81%), serious foetal anomaly (73%), and where the woman is pregnant as a result of rape or incest (78%.)

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