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Ethics – Abortion controversy

March 2016

In Northern Ireland (NI) abortion is only allowed if the mother’s life is at risk. But, in November 2015, after a judicial review by the Northern Ireland (NI) Human Rights Commission, Mr Justice Horner ruled that NI’s abortion law contravenes human rights legislation. He ruled that not allowing abortion when an unborn baby has a severely life-limiting condition is a gross interference with a woman’s personal autonomy.

Attorney General, John Larkin QC, has lodged an appeal against Mr Justice Horner’s ruling, having, according to the Christian Institute, earlier described it as ‘profoundly disappointing’.

The Christian Institute points out that the judgment did not take into account the possibility of misdiagnosis in the womb, or the fact that children diagnosed with a ‘fatal foetal abnormality’ can live for a short time after birth.

Justice Minister David Ford and the NI Human Rights Commission have also announced that they will separately challenge different aspects of the ruling.

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