The UK Supreme Court Wednesday ruled that Northern Ireland’s Abortion Services Bill does not infringe on protesters rights.
The court reasoned that the citizens of Northern Ireland adopted the right to abortion through the democratic process. By allowing “those who had lost the political debate” to obstruct the right to abortion it “would align the law with the values of the opponents.”
Attorney General Brenda King argued that the bill was a “disproportionate interference with the freedom of conscience, speech and assembly of anti-abortion protesters and demonstrators.” King claimed the bill violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, namely the right to peaceably assemble.
The bill bans anti-abortion protesters from protesting outside of protected areas like reproductive health centers. The bill was intended to protect women seeking abortion services and relieve them from the pressure imposed by anti-abortion protesters. The bill designated “safe access zones” adjacent to the properties that provided health services. Specifically, the bill makes it an offense “to do an act in a safe access zone with the intent of, or reckless as to whether it has the effect of…influencing a protected person, whether directly or indirectly.” A protected person is either a patient, accompanying persons or staff member.