The High Court in Belfast has ruled that Northern Ireland’s abortion legislation is in breach of human rights laws.
In a landmark ruling the court declared that abortion should be available in the case of foetal abnormality or rape.
The 1967 Abortion Act does not currently apply in the province, where abortion is only permitted when the mother’s life is in danger.
More than 800 women travelled from Northern Ireland to England or Wales to receive abortions in 2013.
Among them was Sarah Ewart, who had an abortion after being told her baby had no chance of survival, and who was one of a number of people to make submissions to the Belfast High Court.
Life charity Northern Ireland spokeswoman, Marion Woods, said: “The Northern Ireland law on abortion reflects the democratic will of the people of Northern Ireland expressed through their elected political representatives in the Assembly. This case therefore represents an attempt to change the law against the will of the people of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
“The majority of people in Northern Ireland continue to believe in the intrinsic value of human life from conception. Human life begins in the womb. How then can the right to protection of human beings in the womb be incompatible with human rights? Even if an individual’s human rights under Article 8 is engaged, it does not trump a child’s right to life. The first and most fundamental human right should be the right to life.”
Meanwhile, Liam Gibson, the Northern Ireland development officer for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, which intervened in the case, said: “The ruling by Judge Mark Horner is dangerously flawed. The judge misrepresented the protection of children before birth in case law and statute law in Northern Ireland. He also confused the separate legal issues of viability and the capacity to be born alive.”
Mr Gibson continued: “Not one universal human rights treaty recognises a right to abortion. However, the right to life is shared by all members of the human family.
The Declaration on the Rights of the Child (DRC) acknowledges that ‘the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth’. The DRC explicitly states that the need for such special safeguards is ‘recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’.”
Melanie McDonagh at The Spectator commented on the anti-democratic approach to legalising abortion in Northern Ireland.
She wrote: “This judgment is plainly at odds with the opinion of the democratic forum in the north, the Northern Ireland Assembly, where every attempt to have abortion introduced upfront, in law, has been thrown out. Instead abortion seems likely to be brought in through the courts, that weaselly, undemocratic method of choice by the human rights lobby, whose concept of human rights never seems to extend to prenatal life.”
Priest’s painting on display
A Van Dyck masterpiece bought unwittingly by a priest from an antiques shop in Cheshire is now on display at Rubens House, Antwerp.
Fr Jamie MacLeod bought the painting 13 years ago. It was identified after he took it to the Antiques Roadshow and is estimated to be worth £500,000. Ben van Beneden, director of the gallery, said: “The story of this painting is miraculous in every respect.”
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