Northern Ireland pro-choice campaign gathers momentum

Theresa May has been urged to support liberalisation of Northern Ireland's laws

She said May has an obligation to make sure the United Kingdom government is "now longer acting unlawfully by breaching the human rights of women across Northern Ireland".

It was ruled that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission did not have the power to bring a case, due to the law's rights not being infringed with.

Currently, a termination is only permitted in Northern Ireland if a woman's life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health.

The commission a year ago argued that the current law criminalises "exceptionally vulnerable" women and girls and subjects them to "inhuman and degrading" treatment.

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He said the divisions among Supreme Court justices on the Northern Ireland laws revealed a "complete lack of consensus" on the matter.

But the momentum for change will gather strength from the complicated judgment, which comes two days after forceful arguments for reform were presented in a House of Commons emergency debate, and less than two weeks after the Irish Republic voted by a landslide to repeal its constitutional protection of the unborn. As such, the court does not have jurisdiction to make a declaration of incompatibility in this case.

Amnesty International and women who have been directly impacted by the abortion law intervened in the case, providing evidence that the near total abortion ban is a violation of women's rights. The court dismissed the case without taking action. [It] makes clear there is nowhere left for the government to hide on this issue.

"We recognize there are strongly-held views on all sides of the debate in Northern Ireland and that's why our focus is on restoring that democratically accountable, devolved government", Downing Street said after the meeting.

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Britain's Northern Ireland minister has said she would like the law to be changed, but it was up to the people of Northern Ireland.

"Until such times as the legal framework caters for what are very basic human rights, our client, Sarah Ewart, has made it clear that she will continue to take the case to the highest level to ensure that no woman has to go through the traumatic experience in which she was so forced".

The ruling on a technicality will come as a relief for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who previously said that the province should decide its own abortion policy.

She added, "That is why the government, like its predecessors, believes that the best forum to debate and resolve these and many other matters is a locally elected Northern Ireland assembly, so the government's priority remains to urgently re-establish strong, inclusive, devolved government at the earliest opportunity". "A failure to act would be a cruel betrayal of women".

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