The UK Supreme Court is hearing a challenge to Northern Ireland’s abortion law in a three day session that will last until Thursday 26 October.
The court will decide whether the law violates women’s human rights by not allowing abortions in cases of sexual crime (rape and incest) and where the foetus would not survive birth due to a fatal abnormality.
Amnesty has intervened in the case and has given evidence that the ban violates women's human rights.
We told the court that it violates women's rights to be free from "inhuman and degrading treatment" under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Article 8 of the ECHR is also being examined, which protects women's rights to their private and family life.
Grainne Teggart, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland campaigns manager, said:
“Northern Ireland’s abortion laws date back to 1861 and mean that abortion is illegal in almost every circumstance.
“It’s 2017. It’s time we had abortion laws that were fit for the 21st century and that don’t treat women as criminals. Abortion is a health care and human rights issue - it’s time that our legislation recognised that.”
"Trauma and humiliation"
The court also heard from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), who brought the appeal. Their barrister said that the ban discriminates against woman and girls on the grounds of gender and amounts to an "unjustified" breach of their personal right to autonomy.
She also told the judges of the"trauma and humiliation" experienced by Northern Irish women and claimed they were forced to go through "physical and mental torture".
Evidence was read from three women who were denied treatment in Northern Ireland despite being told by doctors that their unborn children had fatal foetal abnormalities and would not survive birth.
Central to the case is Sarah Ewart, who has been working alongside Amnesty since the court process began. Speaking of the ordeal she faced, Sarah said:
“It was really awful. I at the time knew I was going to lose a baby, so I was already grieving. But having to leave my home and my family and my friends, and the hospital that I knew and the consultants that I knew, and the midwives… It was a really terrifying time.
“We didn’t know where we were heading to or who we were going to meet at the other end. It was just a really terrifying and awful experience.”
More to follow.
Take action now and demand that the UK government step in to end this grave betrayal of Northern Irish women and girls.