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Supreme Court must take 'unique chance' to change Northern Ireland abortion law

Amnesty International is urging the Supreme Court to change Northern Ireland’s abortion law as a three-day hearing in London concludes today.

Amnesty is an intervenor in the case which is considering whether Northern Ireland law breaches women’s rights by not allowing abortions in cases of sexual crime and fatal foetal abnormalities.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland campaigns manager, said:

“We hope the Supreme Court has heard loud and clear our arguments that Northern Ireland’s law breaches women's rights, as well as the evidence of women we presented which demonstrates the harsh reality for women in Northern Ireland. 

“It is essential that women’s rights in Northern Ireland are now brought in line with human rights standards. Women who have an abortion are not criminals, and abortion should not be a matter for the criminal justice system.

“The judges of the Supreme Court now have a unique chance to put right centuries of human rights abuse. We urge them to take it. We cannot allow another generation of women and girls to suffer this injustice.

“This case is hugely significant in human rights terms, and Amnesty’s campaign will continue until our laws are fully human rights compliant, including the decriminalisation of abortion.”

Sarah Ewart, whose first pregnancy was given a fatal foetal diagnosis and had to travel to England to terminate her pregnancy as Northern Ireland’s laws did not permit her to receive this healthcare within the region, was also an intervenor alongside Amnesty.

Sarah Ewart said:

“It was important for me to join Amnesty in this case and play my part in hopefully bringing about real change for women and girls who continue to be affected by the current law in Northern Ireland.

“This is now a chance for the Supreme Court to ensure that no other woman in my position will have to suffer like I did.

“I hope we will soon see the law changed to properly protect the human rights of women and girls in Northern Ireland.”

A ruling is expected to be handed down in early 2018.

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