Pro-abortion ruling to be appealed in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s Attorney General has lodged an appeal against a legal ruling, which states that the country’s abortion law is “incompatible” with human rights legislation.

John Larkin QC had vowed to oppose the ruling by Mr Justice Horner at the end of last year, describing it as “profoundly disappointing”.

In November last year, Mr Justice Horner ruled that the abortion law contravenes human rights legislation, after a judicial review was brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Personal autonomy

In a lengthy judgment, the High Court Judge said that not allowing abortion when an unborn baby has a severely life-limiting condition is a “gross interference” with a woman’s “personal autonomy”.

However, the judgment did not take into account the possibility of misdiagnosis in the womb, or the fact that children diagnosed with a ‘fatal foetal abnormality’ can live for a short time after birth.

In cases of sexual crime, the ruling said not letting the mother have an abortion places a “disproportionate burden” on her.


Justice Minister David Ford and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have also announced that they will separately challenge different aspects of the ruling.

Currently in Northern Ireland abortion is only allowed if the mother’s life is at risk.

In Great Britain, the legal limit for abortion is 24 weeks, but if the child is disabled abortion is allowed up to term.

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