Tuesday 30 June 2009

Judicial review of Northern Ireland abortion guidance granted

The High Court in Belfast has granted an application to SPUC for a judicial review of the Northern Ireland health department's guidance on abortion.

Speaking to me from outside the court, Liam Gibson of SPUC Northern Ireland said:

"We are very grateful to have the opportunity to present the issues that were not properly examined during the consultation, particularly the recommendations of the Stormont health committee. We hope that the department will now be reasonable and redraft the guidance which were fundamentally flawed and need radical revision."

Mr Justice Weatherup allowed the application on the grounds that:

- the department has erred in law in its view of the law on abortion in Northern Ireland, as summarised in the guidance.

- the guidance is misleading and/or does not accurately portray the law on abortion in Northern Ireland.

- in publishing the guidance in its present form the Department was mistaken in:

  • failing to acknowledge properly the presumptive illegality of abortion in Northern Ireland.
  • failing to recognise properly the rights of the unborn child.
  • failing to provide guidance on, or require investigation into, whether a child which may be aborted is capable of being born alive; and failing to provide instructions for circumstances where a child is capable of being born alive or is aborted alive.
  • providing for "non-directive" counselling which is incompatible with the presumptively criminal nature of abortion in Northern Ireland.
There were also other grounds.

Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk