UK Supreme Court says it can not rule on Northern Ireland’s abortion law

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It was ruled that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission did not have the power to bring a case, due to the law's rights not being infringed with.

Rebecca Schiller, Chief Executive of Birthrights, the UK's only organisation human rights during pregnancy and childbirth said: "These last weeks have made it clear that we can no longer ignore the continued suffering and violation of Northern Irish women's human rights".

The appeal was brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC). It can not wait for the Northern Ireland Assembly to reconvene and potentially act - it must now act itself.

"A majority of the court dismisses the appeal", notes the Supreme Court statement. "A failure to act would be a cruel betrayal of women". I feel like we're finally getting somewhere - that people are starting to realise that us women in Northern Ireland are being denied our basic rights.

Ewart, right, has said she intends to bring the case to Belfast's High Court.

While some judges took the view that the legal protections for the unborn in cases of rape, incest and severely life-limiting conditions are incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, they also acknowledged the court had no basis for making that ruling.

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Lord Mance, the Deputy President of the Supreme Court, made the case for an immediate change in the law very powerfully in his comments in the judgment.

Laurence Wilkinson, legal counsel for ADF International, a group that advocates the right to live according to religious belief, said it welcomes the dismissal of the case, asserting that "at least 100,000 people in Northern Ireland are alive today" because of the decision not to liberalize laws in 1967, when Wales, England and Scotland eased restrictions. "What we need is compassion and services in Northern Ireland".

Decriminalizing abortion in Northern Ireland may come down to a vote Wednesday in London's House of Commons at Westminster.

But that decision was overturned in June a year ago by three of Northern Ireland's most senior judges.

Lord Kerr stated that the answer to the breaches of human rights could be achieved through an amendment to the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and the Criminal Justice Act (NI) 1945.

The referendum reignited a debate about Northern Ireland's law, with some calling for reform while others - including the biggest party, the Democratic Unionist Party - remain opposed to changing the law. Amnesty believes that the forthcoming Domestic Violence Bill is the vehicle to achieve this change.

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