City Law School’s Angela Jackman calls for consistency in abortion law
The UK Supreme Court has ruled against issuing a declaration of incompatibility in respect of Northern Ireland's prohibitive abortion laws in its decision of 7th June 2018.
Angela Jackman, Partner at Simpson Millar LLP and Senior Lecturer in the City Law School, says the ruling offers a ‘significant glimmer of hope’.
By a slim majority of 4:3, a panel of 7 Supreme Court Justices ruled that in the absence of an actual victim, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission did not have standing to bring the challenge.
However, the court proceeded to rule that notwithstanding this decision, the current law in Northern Ireland is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights due to its blanket ban on abortions in circumstances of fatal foetal abnormality (5:2), rape (4:3) and incest (4:3).
Ms Jackman said:
Their Lordships made very clear that the current state of the law in Northern Ireland is ‘untenable’ and their judgment cannot be ‘safely ignored’. The time is ripe for steps to be taken which ensure that abortion law throughout the UK is consistent. On the back of the referendum result in Ireland, and mounting cross-party support for Stella Creasy MP’s campaign for legislative reform, it is surely a matter of time for the reproductive rights of women in Northern Ireland to be brought into the 21st century.
Ms Jackman, winner of the 2018 Lawyer of the Year Award at the Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards, led an Article 8 and Article 14 case (A and B v Secretary of State for Health) in defence of women from Northern Ireland seeking NHS-funded abortions in England.
The case was narrowly rejected by the Supreme Court on 14 June 2017 but was subsequently quoted in the Government’s concession of 29 June 2017.
An application has been registered with the European Court of Human Rights.