Members of Precious Life attended the High Court today to hear Mr Justice Horner’s ruling in the judicial review of abortion legislation in Northern Ireland. After five months of deliberation, Mr Justice Horner ruled that the illegality of abortion in cases where the unborn child has been diagnosed with a ‘fatal foetal abnormality’ and where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest is in violation of Article 8(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Mr Justice Horner has invited the parties involved in this case to make further submissions as to what the next stage should be with regard to the legislation.

In June the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission took the Department of Justice to court to demand the legalisation of abortion in cases of rape and incest and when the unborn child has been diagnosed with a ‘serious’ disability. According to the Commission, the illegality of abortion was in violation of Article 3, 8 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights; namely, the prohibition of torture and degrading treatment, the right to privacy, and the prohibition of discrimination, respectively.

Precious Life, the leading pro-life group in Northern Ireland, was a third party intervener on behalf of the unborn child in this landmark case. Commenting on today’s ruling, Bernadette Smyth, the director of Precious Life, said:

“First and foremost, I would like to make clear that the law has not changed in Northern Ireland. The law on abortion can only be changed through the Northern Ireland Assembly. We trust that the Attorney General will appeal this case and ensure that unborn children will continue to be protected in law, policy and practice in Northern Ireland.

“We welcome that Mr Justice Horner acknowledged that there is no right to abortion in international human rights law. He also made clear that the illegality of abortion neither discriminates against the woman nor subjects her to inhumane and degrading treatment. However, we are deeply saddened that he did not recognise the right to life which is shared by all unborn children in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The Right to Life is granted neither by judges nor politicians, but it is their duty to protect it.We cannot and will not accept a ruling that is so morally wrong in denying the fundamental rights of the most vulnerable human beings in society.

“Precious Life will make a further submission in this case and will not give up in our efforts to ensure every unborn child is protected in Northern Ireland.”

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