By: Katherine Montgomery

In July 2014, a 19 year-old woman living in Northern Ireland took pills she bought online to terminate an unwanted, 11-week pregnancy because she could not afford to travel to Great Britain for an abortion.[1] Her roommates called the police and in 2016 she was sentenced to 3 months in jail, suspended for 12 months.[2] In Northern Ireland, women who obtain abortions and assisting medical professionals can be sentenced to life in prison, while women in Britain, Wales, and Scotland can receive free abortions under the National Health Service (NHS). [3] Women in Northern Ireland are denied the same rights as women who live elsewhere in the United Kingdom, which disproportionately hurts those who are poor and unable to travel for an abortion.

Brief Legal History of Abortion In Northern Ireland

Similar to the American Revolution, “A persistent question throughout Irish constitutional history concerned the power of the Irish Parliament and the debate over whether … the Westminster Parliament, had the right to legislate for Ireland.”[4] The Parliament of Ireland was established in 1297, but the common law system only became dominant in the 17th century under the Kingdom of Ireland, a client state of Britain. [5] The Parliament of Ireland “voted itself out of existence by agreeing to the Act of Union” which unified the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland in 1800. [6] From 1800 to 1922, “the governance and legal system of Ireland were ostensibly the same as that of Great Britain.”[7] In 1861, the Offences against the Person Act was passed by the Westminster Parliament; Section 58 and 59 made abortion illegal throughout the British Isles.[8]

Great unrest within Ireland and between Great Britain lead to the Government of Ireland Act of 1920, which created two separate-governing territories in Ireland within the United Kingdom.[9] The predominately Protestant north feared political marginalization by the southern Catholic majority and campaigned for two separate Irelands.[10] The “sectarian divisions, which had opened up during religious wars in the 17th century between Protestants and Catholics, were exacerbated by economic problems.”[11] The 6 counties that make up Northern Ireland had a strong industrial sector that benefited from free trade with Britain, while southern Ireland had a failing agricultural economy.[12] North Ireland was successfully created. Southern Ireland never fully formed a home-rule system, and at the end of the Anglo-Irish War in 1921 the south became a free state, the Irish Republic.[13] Under home-rule, Northern Ireland established a separate legal system from Great Britain for non-imperial issues; but this did not lead to the end of violence.

When the UK Parliament legalized abortion in the Act of 1967, Northern Ireland was in the beginning of the Troubles, a period of intense unrest and violence against UK rule.[14]  The Offences against the Person Act still applied in Northern Ireland, for devolution of legislative power does not void previous legislation.[15] During the Troubles, the Northern Irish Parliament was dominated by the Ulster Unionist Party. The UUP had no desire to copy UK policies or alienate Protestants, so they ignored the Abortion Act of 1967.[16] No major political organization had a desire to overturn the 1861 Act, including the IRA whose membership was almost all Catholic.[17] The Troubles forced women to be self-reliant and helped mobilize the women’s rights movement in Northern Ireland, however the unrest also prevented the movement from gaining strong political foothold.[18] The transition to peace, with many IRA members becoming politicians, helped further cement religious identity with political identity, often marginalizing women in the process.[19]

In 1972, the British Prime Minister suspended the Northern Irish Parliament in an effort to control and arm the Northern Irish police against the IRA.[20] However, “the IRA regarded London rule as worse than Belfast rule and stepped up their campaign of murders and bombings.”[21] During this period of direct-rule the Westminster Parliament did not apply the Act of 1967 to Northern Ireland, probably to not further enflame the violence. The Good Friday Agreement in 1988 helped end the violence and the Northern Ireland Act of 1998 established the Northern Ireland Assembly and functions as a constitution.[22] The court system of Northern Ireland was largely separate from Great Britain until 2009, when the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom became active.[23]

The 1861 Act still applies to Great Britain, making it illegal to induce a miscarriage without a doctor’s consent.[24] However, under modern legislation and rulings, in Great Britain a woman can terminate an unwanted pregnancy until 24 weeks, and beyond that limit “in cases where the mother’s health is threatened or if there is a substantial risk the baby will have serious disabilities.”[25] In Northern Ireland there are no exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or fatal fetal abnormalities and the 1861 Act still applies. The Criminal Justice Act of 1945 by the Parliament of Northern Ireland established an exception for preserving the life of the mother, 16 years after Great Britain had established this exception.[26] The 1861 act is not a forgotten relic of direct British rule, as women are still being convicted and punished under the law in Northern Ireland today.


Health Insurance and Abortion in Northern Ireland

Devolution is important, especially since independence movements are still strong in the UK, but it creates inequalities in the national healthcare system. The UK Department of Health oversees the National Health Service (NHS) and the Department of Health of Northern Ireland. NHS is a separate body in England, Scotland and Wales. Health and Social Care (HSC) is the Northern Irish equivalent to the NHS. The UK Department of Health’s power is different over each section of the UK because of devolution, even though healthcare is nationally funded.[27] It is an injustice for women who pay the same taxes to receive unequal insurance coverage simply because of where they are a resident in the UK.

Since abortion is not legal in Northern Ireland, many women cross the Irish Sea to have an abortion in a different part of the UK. The NHS covers abortion services for women of Scotland, Wales, and England, but not for women residents of Northern Ireland. Northern Irish women “must fund the cost of the procedure from their own pocket on top of paying for travel and accommodation, a situation pro-choice campaigners say disproportionately affects the poorest.”[28] Many women try to terminate their pregnancy by themselves and risk jail time if they cannot “raise the £400-£2,000 cost.”[29] The bail was set at £500 for the 19 year-old woman who self-induced a miscarriage in 2014 because she was unable to pay for an abortion in England.[30] The question currently facing the NHS is whether insurance in Great Britain should cover abortion services for residents of Northern Ireland.

The first issue of expanding coverage under NHS is cross-boundary limits on healthcare funding. For instance, the Welsh NHS policy on cancer drug coverage is different from the English NHS policy.[31] The difference between Welsh and English hospital care has caused concern at Westminster, which found “that hospitals were paid more generously for treating English patients and were effectively subsidising Welsh patients from this income.”[32] The UK Department of Health has not restructured monetary funds to account for this subsidization of services even after strong public reaction. [33] Cross-border healthcare is usually evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the home board unless there is an agreement in place, such as the NHS England and NHS Wales contract concerning nursing homes.[34] HSC has no agreements with abortion providers in Great Britain to cover abortions which would be illegal in Northern Ireland. NHS could cover abortions for Northern Irish women, however this would mean that healthcare funds meant for people of Great Britain would be covering people of Northern Ireland. It is a difficult political position to ask NHS Commissioners to spend money on Northern Irish citizens over their own. Therefore, any monetary restructuring should come from the UK Department of Health. If the funds that are used to cover insurance for Northern Irish women in Great Britain came from the funds given to the Department of Health of Northern Ireland, then NHS would not have to reduce its citizens’ healthcare funding in order to extend coverage. Also, this reduction of funding to the Department of Health of Northern Ireland might force legislative change. However, it is unlikely the UK Department of Health will restructure the monetary grants to fund NHS’s coverage of Northern Irish women’s abortion services.

Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt has not expanded the NHS in Great Britain to cover women of Northern Ireland and has expressed interest in reducing national access to abortion.[35] Under former Prime Minister David Cameron and current Prime Minister Theresa May there has been no movement in expanding a women’s right to an abortion. Political commentators suggest that their position on abortion is a political appeal to Tories to strength the Conservative Party in Parliament.[36] However, the UK Supreme Court is considering if Secretary Hunt is compelled to extend the NHS coverage to Northern Irish women for abortion services.

On November 2, 2016 the UK Supreme Court heard arguments for R v. Secretary of State for Health.[37] A fifteen year-old resident of Northern Ireland who was unable to pay for an abortion appealed a lower court’s ruling that NHS has no duty to provide abortion services free of charge to women from Northern Ireland. The final judgement will probably be handed down in late January.[38] The two legal questions presented in the case are if the NHS Act of 2006 and the European Convention on Human Rights compel Secretary Hunt to extend NHS coverage.

The first legal question is whether Section 3 of the NHS Act of 2006 creates a duty for the Secretary of State for Health “to exercise his power to require that abortion services be provided through the NHS in England to women ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland.” [39] Under Section 3, “The Secretary of State must provide throughout England, to such extent as he considers necessary to meet all reasonable requirement . . . (d) such other services or facilities for the care of pregnant women.”[40] The lower court found that the Act only imposes a duty on the Secretary of State for Health concerning “the people of England” and does not extend to other people of the UK.[41] However, the lower court did find that it is within the Secretary’s discretion to extend the coverage and that the illegality of abortion in Northern Ireland has no bearing on NHS’s ability to cover abortion services of Northern Irish women.[42] Since NHS England is separate from HSC and the complicated history of the United Kingdom, it is doubtful the Supreme Court will consider “the people of England” to extend to people of Northern Ireland.

The second legal issue raised in R v. Secretary of State for Health, is whether or not providing free abortion services to women from Northern Ireland is a violation of Article 8 and Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.[43] The European Convention on Human Rights “is an international treaty distinct from the EU Treaties . . . [and incorporated] through the Human Rights Act.”[44] Therefore, the UK’s exit from the European Union will not effect this legal question. Also, Brexit will not affect a party’s right to appeal this case to the European Court of Human Rights after the UK Supreme Court ruling.

Article 8 states “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.”[45] The article includes exceptions for “national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”[46] Even though Article 8 is very broad, multiple international treaty bodies have analyzed abortion in Northern Ireland, which the court can use as guidance. In 2015, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission found that Northern Ireland’s ban of abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality and sexual offenses violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.[47] In P&S v. Poland, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that Poland’s legal framework, which made it difficult to obtain access to a legal abortion, violated Article 8.[48] The ECHR rulings on abortion have involved very extreme cases, therefore the UK Supreme Court may find R’s case distinguishable as the Northern Irish applicant is not petitioning for termination in case of fetal abnormality or sexual offense. However, the Court may find that Secretary Hunt must extend coverage in cases of fatal fetal abnormality and sexual offenses even if not required to cover R’s abortion.

Article 14 is the prohibition of discrimination, including on grounds of sex, national or social association, and property.[49] Article 14 “applies only where the act in question falls “within the ambit” of another Convention right, although there need be no infringement of that right.”[50] The ECHR has upheld that termination of a pregnancy is within the rights of Article 8.[51] The lower court found that the policy of NHS England does not constitute discrimination since it is not just Northern Irish women, but all non-England residents, who are charged for abortion services. This is a narrow framing of discrimination as the abortion services of residents in Scotland and Wales are covered through cross-boundary NHS contracts. It is interesting that the court framed the discrimination in terms of terminating a pregnancy and not in terms of national association. In Magee v. United Kingdom, the ECHR found that different prisoner rights between Northern Ireland and Britain did not violate Article 14 as geographical location is not a status for discrimination.[52] Even if Magee did not apply or the Supreme Court found that discrimination based on sex or national association has occurred in this case, the government only has to meet an “objective and reasonable justification” standard for the discrimination to be permissible. At the core of R. v. Secretary of State for Health, is the issue that the UK national healthcare system treats people differently based on residence. The Supreme Court will probably be sympathetic to most justifications for this policy, especially because of the long (sometimes bloody) history of state self-determination within the UK.

Currently, there are charities that raise money to help women from Northern Ireland who cannot afford to pay for the abortion or associated travel since national healthcare does not cover the services. A few abortion providers in Great Britain offer discounts for residents of Northern Ireland. The Abortion Support Network helped the 15 year-old in the R v. Secretary of State for Health case pay the £900 cost, which was more money than her and her mother could raise especially since they did not have access to credit cards. [53] However, changing the NHS policy to cover women from Northern Ireland is only a small step in improving access to abortion services, so groups like Alliance for Choice and Abortion Rights UK are instead focusing on legislative changes in Northern Ireland.[54]


Liberalization of Abortion Laws in Northern Ireland

The United Nations and the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland have both called for liberalization of abortion laws in Northern Ireland, however the Northern Ireland Assembly has not repealed or mitigated the 1861 Act. Also, even though the UK Parliament and Supreme Court has supremacy over Northern Ireland, no effort to expand abortion services has occurred.

The United Nations governing bodies have repeatedly urged for a change in Northern Ireland’s criminalization of abortion. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has pronounced “criminalization of health services that only women require, including abortion, is a form of discrimination against women.”[55] In 2009, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights called upon the UK “to amend the abortion law of Northern Ireland to bring it in line with the 1967 Abortion Act.”[56] In cases such as K.L. v. Peru and L.M.R. v. Argentina, “Human Rights Committees have found that, in certain circumstances, denial of access to abortion services can lead to physical or mental suffering that amounts to torture or ill-treatment.”[57] In a review by the High Commissioner, it was concluded “that states should prevent unsafe abortion, which can lead to higher rates of maternal mortality, through the liberalization of restrictive abortion laws.”[58] In 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee ruled “that Northern Ireland’s law prohibiting and criminalizing abortion violated the human rights of a woman who had a diagnosis of fatal foetal impairment.”[59] The Committee also found that the 1861 law “constitutes discrimination against women on grounds of sex and denies them equal protection.”[60] However, any holding by the UN Human Rights Committee is unbinding and the Northern Ireland Assembly took no action in response to the 2016 ruling.

The High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland in the Queen’s Bench Division, the judicial review branch, heard a case about the 1861 Act in 2015 brought by the Northern Ireland Rights Commission. Justice Hormer held “that Northern Ireland’s abortion laws breached Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights because they do not allow abortions in cases of rape, incest or fetal anomalies.”[61] Justice Horner wrote that there is no right to abortion in Northern Ireland besides what is required by the European Convention on Human Rights, which is cases of fatal fetal anomaly (FFA) and sexual offenses. The Northern Ireland Assembly is bound to the EHRC by Section 6.2 of the Northern Ireland Act of 1998, which “made it clear that it was outside the legislative competence of the Assembly to pass any provisions which were “incompatible with any of the Convention Rights.””[62] The EHRC can directly invalidate laws passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly, unlike laws passed by Westminster.[63] Even though the High Court of Justice found that Northern Ireland is in violation of Article 8, it did not invalidate the 1861 Act. The Court ruled that to be in compliance with Article 8, abortion in cases of FFA and sexual offenses are now legal. Therefore, the 1861 Act is still good law as Section 58 and 59 only “prohibit unlawful actions taken to procure and abortion.” Since the Court ruled FFA and sexual offenses are now legal, the 1861 Act is compatible with the EHRC.[64] Justice Homer’s logic is circular, but the concurrence was similarly hesitant in invalidating the 1861 Act. Since neither party in the case made such an argument the case was extended. The case is currently being appealed by David Ford, the Minister of Justice of Northern Ireland, to the Court of Appeals of Northern Ireland.[65]

In February 2016, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted on whether to allow abortion in cases of FFA or sex crimes and the bill was defeated 59 to 40. The Ulster Unionist Party, the party that ignored the Abortion Act of 1967, was very critical of the Democratic Unionist Party’s opposition to the bill.[66] DUP said it would create a 6-month working group to study the effects of abortion in cases of FAA. The promise of a working group probably helped convince many to vote “no” and was criticized as a ploy to stall for time.[67] The working group was set up in July, the Health Minister received the report in October, and in November the report was released recommending change to the current abortion law for FAA but it will not reach the desk of the Executive of Northern Ireland until January.[68] In an Amnesty poll in October 2016, 73% of DUP voters support access to abortion in cases involving sexual offense.[69] The parties in Northern Ireland are still divided mostly between Protestant and Catholics and this is one of the few issues they can agree on. Sinn Féin, the political arm of the IRA, supports abortion but currently the issue is dividing its members, further reducing their political power.[70] DUP has broadened its base on its rise to majority in the Assembly, so the unionist party might actually expand access to abortion to retain its middle-class, service working voters.[71] The Assembly is in the best position to overturn the 1861 Act, and if the Amnesty poll is correct, a majority of the population supports liberalization of abortion laws even though their politicians seem to be dragging their feet on this issue.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom has parliamentary sovereignty over the Northern Ireland Assembly, however devolution is a political if not legal barrier to Westminster expanding abortion access in Northern Ireland. Legally, criminal matters are devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly and abortion is considered a criminal matter in Northern Ireland. Human rights issues are not devolved, therefore the UK Parliament could enact legislation related to abortion as a human right.[72] With the current Conservative party majority in power it is doubtful any expansion of abortion services will occur. Prime Minister May and Secretary of State for Health Hunt are also currently managing the UK’s exit from the European Union which has re-encouraged independence movements in parts of the UK, such as Scotland. Current political climate is not favorable to expanding abortion services and wary of enflaming independence movements so it is doubtful change will come from Great Britain.


Any legislation or Commission rulings by Westminster will probably be met by resentment in Northern Ireland, especially because of Brexit. Northern Ireland did not enact the Abortion Act of 1967 because of unrest that was partly because of UK rule. The secular divisions that defined the Troubles is still one of the main reasons why abortion services have not been expanded in Northern Ireland, even for cases involving sexual offenses and fatal fetal abnormality, for abortion seems to be one of the few things Protestants and Catholics seem to agree on.[73] Abortion became illegal in Northern Ireland through an act by Westminster in 1861 yet time and time again the legislative body in Northern Ireland has not changed the law, partly because of resentment against UK rule. Devolution helped Northern Ireland establish home-rule however, it has also caused segment of the UK population to have unequal access to healthcare services. The national healthcare system is funded almost exclusively through national taxes, yet healthcare differs on where one resides in the UK. It is expensive to travel from Northern Ireland to Great Britain and pay for an abortion out of pocket. This disproportionately hurts poor women, who often cannot afford to take care of a child. The process of traveling and raising money to have an abortion can by very emotionally and mentally taxing, especially for minors. Changing opinions in Northern Ireland may force the political parties to end their block on abortion yet it is moving very slowly. The one break to all of this may be that the UK Supreme Court now exists and the European Court of Human Rights has the power to invalidate laws in Northern Ireland. Recent court cases may lead to the expansion of abortion services in cases of sex crimes of fatal fetal abnormality, however this ECHR does not protect a women’s right to an abortion as much as the Abortion Act of 1967 that applies to Great Britain. It is important that healthcare does not become a pawn in the history of power between states.


[1] Woman who bought drugs online to terminate pregnancy given suspended sentence, BBC (April 4, 2016),

[2] Abortion pills: Housemate speaks of guilt over ‘baby in bin,’ BBC (April 6, 2016),

[3] Mara Clarke, Barring Northern Irish women from NHS abortions is an atrocious anomaly, The Guardian (May 9, 2014)

[4] Janet Sinder, Irish Legal History: An Overview and Guide to the Sources, (2001) available at

[5] Id. at 240.

[6] Id. at 250.

[7] Id.

[8] Woman who bought drugs online to terminate pregnancy given suspended sentence, supra note 1.

[9] Sinder, supra note 4, at 251.

[10] Why is Northern Ireland part of the United Kingdom?, The Economist: The Economist Explains (Nov. 7, 2013),

[11] Id.

[12] Why is Northern Ireland part of the United Kingdom?, supra note 10.

[13] Sinder, supra note 4, at 251.

[14] Id. at 249.

[15] Manon Chirgwin, The Development of Devolution in Wales and its Impact on Healthcare, available at—The-Development-of-Devolution-in-Wales-and-its-Impact-on-Healthcare.pdf (compares healthcare devolution in Wales to healthcare devolution in Northern Ireland).

[16] Shaun Harkin, The Struggle for Abortion Rights in Ireland, (Dec. 5, 2012)

[17] Id.

[18] Begoña Aretxaga, Ruffling a Few Patriarchal Hairs: Women’s Experiences of War in Northern Ireland, Cultural Survival, March 1995,

[19] Id.

[20] Direct Rule, BBC News: The Search for Peace,

[21] Wesley Johnston, 1969-1979: The start of the Troubles and the Fall of Stormont, History of Ireland,

[22] Clive Walker, Northern Ireland Act 1998, UK Law Online (Oct. 1, 2000)

[23] Frequently Asked Questions, Supreme Court,

[24] Jon Kelly, Why are Northern Ireland’s abortion laws different to the rest of the UK?, BBC News Magazine (April 8, 2016)

[25] Id.

[26] Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945 c. 15, § 25.

[27] See Who Pays? Determining responsibility for payments to providers, England NHS (Aug. 2013); Income Tax in Northern Ireland, BorderPeople (2016); Income Tax rates and allowances: current and past, HM Revenue & Customs Guidance (6 April 2016)

[28] Mara Clarke, Barring Northern Irish women from NHS abortions is an atrocious anomaly, The Guardian (May 9, 2014)

[29] Id.

[30] Irish woman accused of using poison to procure abortion, The Irish Times (Jan. 11, 2016)

[31] See, e.g., Jessica Walford, ‘England and Wales could be equal’ – an eight-year-old girl asks why there is a difference in cancer treatment within the UK, WalesOnline (Dec. 11, 2016); Jenny Hope, Welsh cancer patients flock to England for treatment because they are being forced to wait weeks for life-saving scans, DailyMail (March 21, 2014); Leo Ewbank, Four key ways to improve cancer patient care in Wales, Cancer Research UK (June 10, 2016)

[32] The Provision of cross-border health services for Wales, Welsh Affairs Committee, § 3 (Marcy 27, 2009)

[33] Ewbank, supra note 31; Walford, supra note 31.

[34] Who Pays? Determining responsibility for payments to providers, supra note 27, at 12.

[35] Toby Helm, Tracy McVeigh & Daniel Boffey, Jeremy Hunt attacked from all sides after abortion comments, The Guardian, Oct. 6 2012,

[36] R (on the application of A) (A Child) (by her litigation Friend B) (Appellant) v. Secretary of State for Health (Respondent), The Supreme Court: Case Details, [hereinafter R v. Secretary of State for Health].

[37] Id.

[38] Frequently Asked Questions, supra note 23; Future Judgements, The Supreme Court

[39] R v. Secretary of State for Health, supra note 36.

[40] National Health Service Act 2006 UK c.41 §3.

[41] A (a child, by her litigation friend B) and B v. Secretary of State for Health [2015] EWCA (Civ) 771

[42] Id.

[43] R v. Secretary of State for Health, supra note 36.

[44] Natasha Holcroft-Emmess & Adam Wagner, BREXIT: What Does It Mean For Human Rights?, Rights Info (Jun. 14, 2016)

[45] European Convention on Human Rights, Eur. Ct. H.R. available at

[46] Id.

[47] NI abortion law ‘breaches human rights’, BBC News (Nov. 30, 2015)

[48] P&S v. Poland, Eur. Ct. H.R. (2008) (difficult to obtain prosecutor’s certificate that the pregnancy resulted from rape, 3 public hospitals refused to carry out the abortion while providing contradictory information, forced minor to talk to a priest and be placed in a juvenile shelter without parents’ consent, and hospital illegally released private medical information to the public)

[49] European Convention on Human Rights, Eur. Ct. H.R. available at

[50] A (a child, by her litigation friend B) and B v. Secretary of State for Health [2015] EWCA (Civ) 771

[51] Helen Fenwick, Is Article 8 ECHR the ‘Feminist Article’?, Inherently Human (Jun. 5, 2013) (Overview of cases where access to abortion has been upheld, including RR v. Poland, P&S v. Poland, and Tysiac v. Poland).

[52] A (a child, by her litigation friend B) and B v. Secretary of State for Health, supra note 50.

[53] Mara Clarke, Barring Northern Irish women from NHS abortions is an atrocious anomaly, The Guardian (May 9, 2014)

[54] Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s Application [2015] NIQB 96, Judicial%20Decisions/PublishedByYear/Documents/2015/%5B2015%5D%20NIQB%2096/j_j_HOR9740Final.htm

[55] Office of the High Commissioner, Abortion, UN: Information Series on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights,

[56] Concluding observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Crown Dependencies and the Overseas Dependent Territories, UN Committee on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (Jun. 12, 2009), available at

[57] Breaking Ground: Treaty Monitoring Bodies on Reproductive Rights, Center for Reproductive Rights (2015), 26,

[58] Id.

[59] Ireland’s ban on abortion violates human rights – ground-breaking UN ruling, Amnesty International (Jun. 9, 2016)

[60] International Human Rights Observations on Abortion in Ireland, Sexuality, Information Reproductive Health & Rights,

[61] Micaiah Bilger, Northern Ireland: Abortion Activists Say Pro-Life Laws are “Incompatible” With Human Rights, Life News (Jun. 20, 2016)

[62] Full text of court ruling on North’s abortion laws, The Irish Times (No. 30, 2015) . (Department of Justice of NI argued that Section 6.2 did not apply since the 1861 law was passed before the Act of 1998 but the Court found that ECHR applies to all laws, not just those passed after 1998).

[63] Naomi Webber, Could Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Stop Westminster Changing Human Rights Laws?, Rights Info (July 14, 2016) (“laws made by the devolved legislatures that are incompatible with human rights are simply ‘not law’. . . This is a stronger protection than that given under the Human Rights Act. If an Act of UK Parliament is contrary to human rights, a judge can only make a ‘declaration of incompatibility’”).

[64] Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s Application [2015] NIQB 96, Judicial%20Decisions/PublishedByYear/Documents/2015/%5B2015%5D%20NIQB%2096/j_j_HOR9740Final.htm

[65] Catherine Smyth, Abortion: NI justice minister to appeal High Court ruling, BBC News (Jan. 27, 2016)

[66] Abortion: MLAs vote against legalization in fatal foetal abnormality cases, BBC News (Feb 11, 2016)

[67] Id.

[68] Mark Devenport, Report ‘recommends abortion law change,’ BBC News (Nov. 28, 2016)

[69] Northern Ireland: Nearly 3/4 of public support abortion law change – new poll, Amnesty International UK: Press Releases, (Oct. 18, 2016)

[70] Compare David Young, Ford begins bid to allow abortion in NI for fatal foetal abnormality cases, Belfast Telegraph (July 12, 2016) and Devenport, supra note 68 with Sinn Féin’s Anne Brolly quits party ‘over abortion stance’, BBC News (Oct. 27, 2016)

[71] Arlene Foster needs to take risks if DUP is to stay top dog, Belfast Telegraph (July 12, 2016)

[72] Amelia Gentleman, UK parliament urged to act on Northern Ireland Abortion prosecutions, The Guardian (April 18, 2016)

[73] Amelia Gentleman, UK parliament urged to act on Northern Ireland Abortion prosecutions, The Guardian (April 18, 2016)