NI violates human rights on abortion says UN committee

Nola Leach, chief executive of Christian charity CARE

The UK violates women’s human rights by criminalising abortions in Northern Ireland, a UN committee has said.

Northern Ireland only allows abortion where there is a serious threat to a woman’s health. But the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has now found this causes great harm to women forced to carry unwanted abortions to full term.

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International. 'Picture: Pacemaker, Arthur Allison.

It said: “The systematic nature of the violations stems from the deliberate retention of criminal laws and state policy disproportionately restricting access to sexual and reproductive rights, in general, and highly restrictive abortion provision, in particular.”

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty welcomed the report.

“This damning report from the United Nations confirms what Amnesty has long said – Northern Ireland’s draconian abortion laws are a daily violation of the right of women and girls,” she said.

“We call on the UK government to introduce abortion reform legislation at Westminster without any further delay.”

But Nola Leach, chief executive of Christian lobbying charity CARE, noted that the Belfast Court of Appeal last year ruled Northern Ireland’s abortion law is not incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights.

“The Northern “CEDAW has no legal status and only provides advisory opinions.

“They have consistently failed over the years to recognise there are two lives involved when considering the sensitive subject of abortion.”

More from News