The UK’s highest court – the supreme court will hear a case about the strict abortion laws in Northern Ireland and how they are in breach of a woman’s human rights.
Currently, all forms of abortion are illegal and anyone who unlawfully carries ones out could be jailed for life.
The only circumstance for abortion being legal is when there is a danger to the life of the mother, including physical and mental.
However, abortion is still illegal if the pregnancy is due to rape or incest.
This is the cornerstone of the case put forward by the Northern Irelands human rights commission – who argue that this law is not compatible with the human rights stated by the European Convention of Human Rights.
The high court of Belfast rules this to be correct in December 2015 – however, it was overturned by Northern Ireland’s most senior judges.
This causes uproar across human right activist groups who said it should be presented to the Stormont Assembly. The Stormont assembly is an assembly made up of 90 democratically elected individuals, and form a body voted in via proportional representation.
When this was proposed to the Stormont Assembly, the members said it should be taken the supreme court.
Current abortion law England
Abortion is legal in England up to 24 weeks – after which a legal abortion can only per performed if there is a significant risk to the mother or with newly found fatal foetal abnormalities.
There is also no age restriction, an abortion for someone as young as 12 is allowed.
Currently, its estimated that 12 women cross over from Northern Ireland to England to have a legal and safe abortion performed.
However, for women from a background or family where there are financial restrictions, or even physical and time restraints, this can be an issue.
Rosa Curling, a lawyer from the human rights team, summarised the matter by saying “We hope by intervening we will be able to illustrate the very real human cost of what our clients believe is a degrading and humiliating decision by Northern Ireland’s politicians to pursue a policy which is borne from prejudice and which results in a law which is clearly in breach of the human rights of all women who seek abortion care”
The supreme court will hear the case for 3 days and will then make a decision on both separate issues – incompatibility with the northern Ireland act 1998 and whether the current laws go against laws protecting against a different form of treatment depending on sex.