Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Christian groups welcome Supreme Court's abortion decision on Northern Ireland

Thu 07 Jun 2018
By Cara Bentley

The Supreme Court ruled that Northern Ireland's Human Rights Commission had no right to challenge the country's abortion law but also said the law is incompatible with human rights. 

Currently, terminations are only legal if a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious danger to her mental or physical health.

On Thursday, the court ruled they had no jurisdiction to declare the current rules 'unlawful' but did say Northern Ireland's laws are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, namely Article 8, which protects the right to respect for private and family life.

They therefore suggested that the law should be changed by saying what ruling they would have made had the case been valid.

Although 'radical reconsideration' was recommended, Christian groups have welcomed the ruling that the Northern Ireland Human Rights commission cannot interfere with the law themselves.

Peter Lynas, the director of the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland said: "This is a welcome judgment. It is obviously not a cause for celebration, but rather a moment to pause and be thankful for the lives this judgment will save."

"We acknowledge that this is a technical victory; however, it is important to note that the Supreme Court has dismissed the case brought by the Human Rights Commission. In doing so, it has made clear that there is no human right to abortion."

He also made the distinction between the the right to terminations in extreme circumstances and the right generally: "From a human rights perspective, the only discussion is about life-limiting conditions and sexual crime. Changes beyond that, such as decriminalisation, have nothing to do with human rights."

Pro-life group, Life Northern Ireland addressed the part of the judgement which stated there would have been a verdict of incompatibility: "Life NI is disappointed to note that the Supreme Court has indicated how it might have ruled had there been a case to answer.

"The suggestion that the Supreme Court would have ruled an instance of incompatibility of Article 8 in the case of fatal foetal abnormality and sexual crime is disappointing."

Dawn McAvoy from Both Lives Matter welcomed the limit the judges put on changing the law: "All seven judges have also made clear that they would not have allowed abortion on the grounds of a serious malformation of the unborn child."

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