The Supreme Court has ruled that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission does not have standing to challenge Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.
Dawn McAvoy, co-founder of Both Lives Matter commented,
“We welcome this ruling. It is not a moment to celebrate, but rather to pause and be thankful for the lives this judgment will save. The Supreme Court has dismissed the case brought by the Human Rights Commission. In doing so, it has made clear that there is no human right to abortion. All seven judges have also made clear that they would not have allowed abortion on the grounds of a serious malformation of the unborn child.”
“This is a complex case and there are a number of parts to the decision which have split the court. The Supreme Court has, by a majority decision, accepted the Attorney General’s argument that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission does not have standing to bring this case. In simple terms, the Commission have lost. However, the court have indicated how they would have decided the case if the Commission had standing. There were split decisions in relation to the issues of fatal foetal abnormality and rape and incest cases. While we note the views of the court on these matters and are concerned by them, it is important to state that they are non-binding.”
“Both lives matter under the current law in Northern Ireland. Because we chose not to bring in the 1967 Abortion Act, there are over 100,000 people alive in Northern Ireland today – mothers, sisters, dads and brothers, friends, nephews and cousins. Now is the moment for the conversation to change from abortion to better support for women in these very difficult situations. We will continue to advocate for the life and dignity of both lives, women and children, which is the mark of a compassionate and just society.”
“Following the Irish referendum and recent events at Westminster, it is important be clear on the implications of the court ruling. There is no legal requirement for a law change in Northern Ireland. The court did not find a human right to end a human life. The issue of decriminalisation, which some at Westminster have been pushing for, is entirely separate and there is nothing in the ruling to support it.”
“Abortion is a sensitive subject. The 2% of hard cases are often used to change the law relating to the other 98% of abortions carried out on healthy unborn children. We remind politicians that abortion is a devolved matter. On 10 February 2016, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted against legalising abortion in cases of life limiting conditions (sometimes called fatal foetal abnormality) or cases of rape, incest or indecent assault. The Assembly has spoken and the decision of the Court today does not change that.”
Both Lives Matter will have the following spokespeople available for comment:
Peter Lynas, a former barrister will be available in and around the Supreme Court in London. He can be contacted on 07899 898066
Dawn McAvoy, co-founder of Both Lives Matter is available in Belfast from 12:30pm and can be contacted on 07976 414817
Marion Woods is available in Belfast and can be contacted on 07809 885390.