UK's Supreme Court 'unable to rule' on NI abortion law appeal

However, a majority of the judges said they believe the current laws are incompatible with European rights

UK's Supreme Court 'unable to rule' on NI abortion law appeal

Picture by: Victoria Jones/PA Archive/PA Images

The UK's Supreme Court says it cannot formally rule on whether Northern Ireland's abortion laws breach human rights legislation, following an appeal by human rights campaigners.

However, it has indicated a majority of the justices believe the current law is 'disproportionate and incompatible' with European rights.

The panel of judges said the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission didn't have the power to bring the case - so the case was dismissed on technical grounds.

They have suggested a victim of the laws could be more successful if they brought a challenge themselves.

Abortion is currently banned in the Northern Ireland in all circumstances "except where carried out in good faith for the purpose only of preserving the life of the mother".

Anybody who 'unlawfully procures or performs' a termination could potentially face life imprisonment.

The seven Supreme Court in the UK were asked to rule on whether it is unlawful to ban terminations when a pregnancy arises from rape or incest.

Judges were also examining whether abortion should be allowed in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

The case was brought forward by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

The commission argued that the current laws are in violation of several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Dawn McEvoy from pro-life group Both Lives Matter, meanwhile, suggested that pro-choice campaigners were using "extreme and difficult circumstances to try and instigate a situation where there is unlimited access to abortion".

The result of last month's referendum on the Eighth Amendment has put pressure on politicians in Westminster and Stormont for a review of Northern Ireland's laws.

The Democratic Unionist Party, which is propping up Theresa May's government in London, is against any reform.