advertisement

Northern Ireland Assembly rejects proposed abortion law amendments

[JURIST] The Northern Ireland Assembly [official website] rejected proposed amendments to the region's strict abortion laws on Wednesday. The Assembly voted against a proposed amendment [text, PDF] to the Justice Bill [text] that would allow terminations in cases of sexual crime, fatal fetal abnormality or incest. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission [advocacy website] decried Wednesday's vote as an infringement on human rights [press release] and a violation of a December ruling from the High Court in Belfast which found [JURIST report] that Northern Ireland's abortion laws are not compatible with human rights laws. Currently, women in Northern Ireland must travel to other parts of the UK [Belfast Telegraph report] to seek an abortion when diagnosed with a fetal abnormality. The current law in Northern Ireland strictly bans abortion unless it is required in order to save a woman's life or a serious risk is posed.

Abortion [JURIST backgrounder] remains a controversial topic in both Northern Ireland and the neighboring state of Ireland. In June Amnesty International said Ireland's abortion laws threaten the lives [JURIST report] of women who choose to remain in the country. In December 2014 the High Court of Ireland ruled [JURIST report] that a doctor could switch off the life support of a brain dead woman who was 18 weeks pregnant. Northern Ireland's current abortion law was proposed shortly after the 2013 death of Savita Halappanavar [BBC report], a 31-year-old dentist who was denied a potentially life saving abortion. Following her death, Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore [official website] pledged [JURIST report] to bring "legal clarity" to the country's abortion laws.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.