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Abortion debate: Corbyn says Westminster has human rights responsibilities

Abortion debate: Corbyn says Westminster has human rights responsibilities

The UK's highest court dismissed the latest bid to liberalize Northern Ireland's highly restrictive abortion law on Thursday.

In a legal action heard at the U.K.'s Supreme Court in 2017, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, an independent public body, sought to force a change to the region's antiabortion laws.

Jeremy Corbyn hit out at the DUP after it insisted Westminster should not meddle with Northern Ireland's abortion law.

Currently, the Abortion Act 1967 does not apply in Northern Ireland, where abortion is legal only to preserve the life of the mother.

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

Ms Creasy wants the Offences against the Persons Act 1861 to be repealed, saying this would remove a block to abortion law reform in Northern Ireland.

The decision comes after the Republic of Ireland voted to repeal its Eighth Amendment, legalising abortion for Irish women up to 12 weeks after conception "with no restriction as to reason".

"It's my strong, personal, view that it is completely unsustainable for us to have a different law from the south on abortion".

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As a result, the judges did not make a formal declaration of incompatibility, which would normally lead to a change in the law.

But the justices agreed with the commission that the abortion ban violates human rights - specifically in cases of rape, incest and fatal fetal abnormalities.

The majority of judges - five out of seven - ruled in favour that the Northern Ireland abortion law is in breach of women's rights. [It] makes clear there is nowhere left for the government to hide on this issue.

The commission welcomed the court's opinion that the law was incompatible with the European Convention, but said it was disappointed in the ruling that it did not have sufficient powers to take the case.

Theresa May was today urged to defy her DUP backers and to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland. The prime minister must commit to reforming abortion law immediately or be complicit in the harm and inequality caused by the existing law.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said abortion is a devolved matter and should only be dealt with by Stormont, which is now suspended. "A failure to act would be a cruel betrayal of women".

Many Conservative lawmakers say that the law in Northern Ireland should be brought into line with the rest of the United Kingdom, but DUP leader Arlene Foster is committed to maintaining the province's strict abortion laws.

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