NI women are "second class citizens on abortion" says lawyer
3 November 2016
"We support women's rights too, but not at the expense of the lives of others." Image: prolifecampaign.ie
The Supreme Court heard yesterday that Northern Irish women are "second class citizens" on abortion.
This claim was made by Stephen Cragg QC, who is representing two women who want women from Northern Ireland to be allowed access to NHS-funded abortions in England. The mother and daughter, A and B, were unsuccessful at the High Court and the Court of Appeal, but have now brought their case against the Secretary of State for Health to the Supreme Court.
Responding for the government, Jason Coppel QC said it was not irrational for the provision of non-emergency healthcare to be divided between the different countries of the UK according to the place of residence of the patient.
Constitutional attack on NI's devolved institutions
Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland Development Officer, said: "This case amounts to a constitutional attack on Northern Ireland's devolved institutions, an attack on the rule of law, and a wholesale assault on the human rights of unborn children.
"Lawyers for the Secretary of State for Health have rightly pointed out that abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland. It is an affront to Northern Ireland's constitutional structures to try to bypass its democratic decision not to allow abortion. Taking children abroad to be destroyed because they are protected in their home region shows contempt for the rule of law. And the failure of courts to recognise the facts of human life before birth is a ruse to evade the moral imperative to uphold basic human rights."
Unborn babies not counted as persons
"It is deplorable to hear clever lawyers perpetuating the fiction that babies in the womb are not real. They are real. They suffer and bleed and die. But our legal system is a shadow-land where unborn babies don't count as persons. They grow, respond and learn while in the womb, but they are routinely killed because judges shut their eyes to reality."
No human right to abortion
"The presiding judge in this case, Lady Brenda Hale has expressed her support for women's rights. We support women's rights too, but not at the expense of the lives of others," continued Mr Gibson. "There is no basis in human rights for a right to abortion. There is, however, an internationally recognised right to life for everyone, and Northern Ireland seeks to respect that. There is also an obligation on the court not simply to uphold the law, but to act justly. Contrary to the pro-abortion groups that want more public funding for abortion, it is not Northern Irish women who are 'second class citizens' when it comes to abortion, but the unborn children in the rest of the UK. They are second class citizens who can be stripped of their legal protection, killed in the womb with impunity, and treated with contempt by the court."