Published 31st January 2018

Supreme Court hears Northern Ireland abortion rights case

The Supreme Court hearing of the case concerning the legality of the abortion regime in Northern Ireland has commenced today. The case has been brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Janet Farrell acts for Humanists UK who are intervening in the appeal.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have argued that the prohibition on abortion is unlawful in cases of (i) women with pregnancies where the foetus cannot survive birth; (ii) women whose pregnancies arise from rape or incest; and (iii) women with serious malformation of the foetus. The Supreme Court gave permission to Humanists UK to intervene in this important appeal by written and oral submissions as well as by filing evidence from three eminent philosophers and Humanists UK supporters: Professor A.C. Grayling, Professor John Harris and Professor Simon Blackburn.

The appeal will be heard over 3 days (24-26 October) in the week of the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act 1967. The Act enabled access to reproductive services in a wide variety of circumstances in England, Scotland, and Wales but was excluded from applying in Northern Ireland.

The case will be heard by a panel of 7 Supreme Court Justices, including newly appointed President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, and the Northern Irish Justice, Lord Kerr.
Janet Farrell acts with Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Fiona Murphy and Mary-Rachel McCabe of Doughty Street Chambers.

A link to the press release by Humanists UK can be read here.


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