Abortion ruling welcomed with ‘sheer relief’

Jane Christie, whose daughter had to go to England to end a pregnancy with a foetal abnormality, speaks to the media outside Belfast High Court
Jane Christie, whose daughter had to go to England to end a pregnancy with a foetal abnormality, speaks to the media outside Belfast High Court

The mother of a young woman who sought a termination in England because a severe foetal abnormality did not allow for the procedure in Northern Ireland, has welcomed a court ruling on NI’s abortion laws.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission successfully challenged the law to allow access to legal terminations in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality.

Jane Christie pictured outside Belfast High Court (Right) with Amnesty's Grainne Teggart. Picture: Arthur Allison.

Jane Christie pictured outside Belfast High Court (Right) with Amnesty's Grainne Teggart. Picture: Arthur Allison.

Jane Christie’s daughter Sarah Ewart wanted to end her pregnancy after discovering the baby she longed for was suffering from anencephaly – meaning it had no skull and was brain dead with no chance of survival.

In an emotional address to the media outside Belfast’s High Court on Monday, Ms Christie said she hoped women in Sarah’s position would now be able to seek treatment in Northern Ireland.

“Probably for a lot of woman like Sarah it is not delight but just sheer relief that they will be able to get the medical help that they need at long last and move on with their families – that they have the right to the medical help that they need and should have had from the outset. It has been a very long and difficult journey.”

Mrs Christie added: “We could be facing this at any time, and to go through what we went through the first time is just unacceptable.”

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International attended court along with Mrs Christie,

Ms Teggart said: “We are delighted that the court today has ruled that Sarah’s rights, by not being able to access a termination in cases of a fatal foetal diagnosis, were being violated.

“We look forward now to the next stage of this which is to see if our existing law can be interpreted to provide exceptions in these very difficult circumstances of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest.

“Women like Sarah Ewart deserve nothing less than the judge has given today.”