NORTHERN IRELAND’S stringent abortion law is in breach of the UK’s human rights commitments, a high court has ruled.
The ruling was made by Mrs Justice Siobhan Keegan at a Belfast high court this Thursday morning, October 3rd.
Sarah Ewart brought the case to court after she was refused a termination in Northern Ireland back in 2013, despite doctors telling her that her unborn child would likely die in the womb or just after birth.
It was a situation that left her with little choice but to travel to a clinic in London in order to end the pregnancy.
Speaking as part of her judgement, Justice Keegan described the 29-year-old’s testimony as “compelling” and that she had been affected by the current law.
“[Ewart] has had to modify her behaviour in that she could not have medical treatment in Northern Ireland due to the risk of criminal prosecution,” Justice Keegan said.
“She may be actively affected in the future. In my view her personal testimony is not disputed.”
The judge confirmed she was following the previous ruling made by the UK supreme court which stated that abortion law in Northern Ireland was incompatible with article 8 of the European convention on human rights.
Justice Keegan added she was eager to avoid the prospect of another young woman pursuing litigation of a similar type and the potential “trauma and pain” such a case would bring.
“I cannot see that this would serve any benefit or it would be right to ask another woman to relive the trauma,” she said.
The judge is now deciding on the necessary course of action to take.
Speaking to The Guardian outside of the court, Ewart described the result as “a massive emotional relief”.
“This has not been an easy journey,” she said. “It is a massive victory. It has been a massive stress emotionally on the family but six years later, let’s enjoy today.”