The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has initiated legal action against the Secretary of State, the NI Executive and the Department of Health for Northern Ireland for failing to commission and fund abortion services in Northern Ireland.

Chief Commissioner Les Allamby said: We are deeply disappointed that we are yet again having to take legal action. Our focus is to ensure that human rights are upheld and the law passed in Westminster is implemented in practice. We must never forget this is about a critical health service for women.”

The full statement from the Commission reads:

“The Commission is deeply concerned at the lack of commissioned and funded abortion services in Northern Ireland, leading to a vacuum for many women and girls seeking such services.  One health and care trust recently ceased to provide a service for three months while another has just stopped providing a service, leaving women and girls to travel to the rest of the UK, elsewhere in Ireland, or to use unregulated services.

The Commission has previously sought to engage with the NI Executive and the Department of Health to resolve this issue and is taking this legal action as a last resort.

The Commission believes that the failure of the NI Executive and Department to agree to fund and commission these services breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has a statutory requirement under the NI (Executive Formation) Act 2019 to ensure that the recommendations of the Convention of the Elimination of Discrimination against Women committee are implemented, namely that women have access to free and safe abortions in Northern Ireland.   

The Commission wants the Department to be permitted to commission and fund the abortion services provided for in the Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No 2) Regulations 2020; and expects the Secretary of State to take such legislative action as is necessary to meet his legal duty to ensure this happens, including if necessary to take legislative action.  

The Commission has lodged judicial review proceedings in the High Court and awaits the Court’s consideration of this matter in the new year.”

Since 31 March 2020, terminations have been legalised in NI in a number of circumstances including under any circumstances by a registered doctor, nurse or midwife up to 12 weeks and where there is a risk to physical or mental health in the opinion of two registered medical professionals up to 24 weeks.

Donation - 60th edition of VIEW magazine

Make a donation to support our 60th edition, any amount would be more than enough, thank you.