NRL News

Belfast High Court abortion ruling opens the “flood gates”

by | Nov 30, 2015

By Dave Andrusko

NIrelandprotest4Pro-life groups universally decried a decision Monday by The Belfast High Court that would make abortion legal in Northern Ireland in cases of rape and incest and “fatal” fetal abnormality.

The pro-abortion Irish Times reported

Mr. Justice Mark Horner held that abortion legislation in Northern Ireland breached Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by failing to provide an exception to the prohibition of abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality at any time during pregnancy or where the pregnancy is the result of sexual crime – up to the date when the foetus is capable of existing independently of the mother.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) described the decision as “a truly tragic day for Northern Ireland’s unborn children and their mothers.”

Liam Gibson, SPUC’s development officer in Northern Ireland, explained, “The ruling by Judge Mark Horner is dangerously flawed. The judge misrepresented the protection of children before birth in case law and statute law in Northern Ireland. He also confused the separate legal issues of viability and the capacity to be born alive.”

Earlier this year the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission applied for a judicial review of the law. The Commission claimed that the law violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

But “Not one universal human rights treaty recognises a right to abortion,” according to Gibson. “However, the right to life is shared by all members of the human family. The Declaration on the Rights of the Child (DRC) acknowledges that ‘the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth’. The DRC explicitly states that the need for such special safeguards is ‘recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’.”

Another prominent pro-life group, The Life Institute, welcomed the decision of John Larkin, the Northern Ireland Attorney General, to appeal today’s abortion ruling. At the same time, it criticized Justice Horner for “attempting to justify his decision to allow abortion for ‘fatal-fetal abnormalities’ by comparing children with life-limiting conditions to other ‘seriously malformed fetuses’, arguing that the former are unable to ‘enjoy life.’” Such has “no basis in law or ethics,” the group said.

Niamh Uí Bhriain, a spokeswoman for The Life Institute, said the decision “furthered ‘lethal discrimination’ against children with severe disabilities.”

“On what highly-subjective basis can any judge decide who is enjoying life and who isn’t,’ said Ms. Uí Bhriain.

She was also critical of the language used by the judge who said babies with severe disabilities were ‘doomed’ and did not have a life worth protecting. “It is extraordinary to see a High Court judge use such cruel and thoughtless languages which will have been enormously hurtful to the majority of parents who carry their sick babies to term and who cherish every moment with their babies, most of whom do live beyond birth, ” she said.

While the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission said that it is “delighted” with the “historic” result, Bernadette Smyth, with Precious Life, called the decision “undemocratic” and said “it will clearly see, long term, the opening of the floodgates.”

Editor’s note. If you want to peruse stories all day long, either go directly to and/or follow me on Twitter at

Categories: Abortion