London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign taking UK Government to court over abortion ban in Northern Ireland
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London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign taking UK Government to court over abortion ban in Northern Ireland

THE London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign (LIARC) has announced plans to take the UK Government to court over Northern Ireland's near-total ban on terminations.

The campaign group said it was ready to bring a "landmark legal case" against Downing Street for its "failure" to change abortion laws in the North.

Abortions are illegal in Northern Ireland in almost all circumstances – with no exceptions for cases involving rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormalities.

That's despite terminations of pregnancies at up to 23 weeks and 6 days having been legalised in England and Wales all the way back in 1967, while the Republic of Ireland lifted its own abortion ban following a referendum last year.

The UN has described Northern Ireland's ban as "tantamount to torture", with the punishment – of up to life in prison for both the woman undergoing the abortion, as well as for any individual who assists her – among the harshest in the western world.

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LIARC launched an online fundraiser in recent days to cover the legal costs of their upcoming case against the UK Government, and have already surpassed their target of £15,000.

'Government inaction'

A message on the page reads: "The first £10,000 will cover the Government’s legal fees if we lose, and the next £5,000 will cover our own court and admin fees.

"If we win, the money will be donated to the Abortion Support Network, who will continue to provide support for those seeking abortion care in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Malta and Gibraltar.

"Women are suffering because of the inaction of the UK Government, and it's happening on our watch. We cannot accept this situation any longer."

Thousands of Northern Irish women continue to travel to England each year to access safe and legal abortion services that are denied to them at home.

LIARC argues that since the Northern Ireland Assembly hasn't functioned since 2017, it is the UK Government's responsibility to address the situation.

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It comes as MPs are set to vote on two proposed amendments to Northern Ireland's abortion legislation tomorrow, as part of a motion led by Labour MP Stella Creasy to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to the North.

Amendment NC11, if passed, would require the government to report to Parliament its actions to ensure compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Amendment NC12 would require the secretary of state for Northern Ireland to take action in the absence of ministers to ensure compliance with human rights obligations on abortion in Northern Ireland.

Click here for LIARC's 'See You In Court' online fundraising page