UK High Court Rules Northern Ireland’s Ban On Abortion Stands

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A human rights group tried to challenge Northern Ireland’s ban on abortions, but the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court rejected that challenge Thursday.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) brought a legal challenge to the country’s ban on abortion following loud calls for Northern Ireland to legalize abortion after Ireland voted on May 26 to do so. Northern Ireland operates under a different governing body than the Republic of Ireland, and bars a woman from having an abortion except where the mother’s life is in danger. No exceptions for rape, incest or fetal abnormalities exist.

“The commission had argued the law criminalizes vulnerable women and girls and subjects them to inhumane and degrading treatment in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights,” said National Public Radio reporter Debbie Elliott.

Northern Ireland’s elected assembly can choose to align with Britain’s abortion laws that permit women to abort their unborn children until 24 weeks in pregnancy, but the government has so far declined to do so.  (RELATED: Theresa May Under Pressure To Amend Abortion Laws In Northern Ireland)

The U.K. court turned the challenge down after ruling that it doesn’t hold weight in court because the challenge doesn’t represent a person who has been victim to Northern Ireland’s law banning abortion, NPR reports. The justices did note however, that the ban on abortion supposedly violates human rights and should face some reforms.

“While the case’s dismissal means the government is not obliged to change the law, the seven judges have given a strong nod that reform is needed,” BBC health correspondent Marie-Louise Connolly reports.  (RELATED: Police Seize Abortion Pills At Rally In Northern Ireland)

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