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The UK Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by human rights campaigners hoping to decriminalise Northern Ireland's strict abortion law.

But it says the majority of Justices think the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission did not have powers to bring the abortion case to court.

The human-rights commission argued that the province's abortion laws were incompatible with the ECHR rules, which protects the right to terminate pregnancies in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities, rape and incest.

Unlike in mainland Britain, abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland, carrying a potential life sentence, except when a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious danger to her mental or physical health.

In the past fortnight, the issue of abortion in Northern Ireland has been thrust onto the front pages. [It] makes clear there is nowhere left for the government to hide on this issue.

The PM has so far resisted calls to act in Northern Ireland following last month's landslide vote in the Irish Republic to liberalize its own laws.

The 1967 Abortion Act has never applied in Northern Ireland.

As a result, the justices said the Supreme Court "has no jurisdiction" in the proceedings to strike down the law.

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This view was shared by four of the seven judges.

Britain's Northern Ireland minister has said she would like the law to be changed, but that the matter should be decided by local politicians.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said that abortion is a devolved matter and should only be dealt with by the Northern Ireland Assembly, which is now suspended.

She called for the United Kingdom and Irish governments to then come together under a peace process construct called the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference to discuss how to change the laws on terminations in Northern Ireland.

"I personally have been doing this for five years, and five years is too long".

As recently as 2016 MLAs in Stormont backed the existing protections, a decision welcomed by The Christian Institute as challenging "those who wish to sell abortion as a positive choice whilst devaluing the lives of the most vulnerable in our society". Members from throughout the House - including government ministers - stood to back Labour MP Stella Creasy's call for a debate. "What we need is compassion and services in Northern Ireland".

Jim Wells claimed the numbers murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps were comparable to the number of terminations since abortion laws were relaxed in England, Scotland and Wales. Amnesty is calling for the repeal of sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which would decriminalise abortion and enable a Human Right compliant healthcare framework to be put in place.


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