Thursday 07 June 2018

Press release

Evangelical Alliance welcomes the ruling of the Supreme Court on NI Abortion Law

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission does not have standing to challenge Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

Former barrister Peter Lynas, NI director of Evangelical Alliance, commented:

"This is a welcome judgment. It is obviously not a cause for celebration, but rather a moment to pause and be thankful for the lives this judgment will save.

"We acknowledge that this is a technical victory; however, it is important to note that the Supreme Court has dismissed the case brought by the Human Rights Commission. In doing so, it has made clear that there is no human right to abortion. All seven judges have also made clear that they would not have allowed abortion on the grounds of a serious malformation of the unborn child.

"The case also draws a clear boundary in the abortion discussion. From a human rights perspective, the only discussion is about life-limiting conditions and sexual crime. Changes beyond that, such as decriminalisation, have nothing to do with human rights.

"This is a complex ruling and the Court has split on a number of the issues raised. The Supreme Court has, by a majority decision, accepted the Attorney General's argument that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission does not have standing to bring this case. In simple terms, the Commission has lost.

"However, the Court has indicated how it would have decided the case if the Commission had standing. This is unusual, and while the comments of the judges was that they would allow abortion in very limited circumstances, they are non-binding.

"We know that there are more than 100,000 people alive in Northern Ireland today because we did not bring in the 1967 Abortion Act. We now need to discuss how to provide better support for women in these very difficult situations rather than liberalising abortion laws. We believe that the compassionate and just response to this situation is to advocate the life and dignity of both lives, woman and child.

"This ruling makes clear that there is no legal requirement for a law change in Northern Ireland. The Court did not find a human right to end a human life. The issue of decriminalisation, which some at Westminster have been pushing for, is an entirely separate matter and there is nothing in the ruling to support it.

"The 2 per cent of hard cases are often used to change the law relating to the other 98 per cent of abortions carried out on healthy unborn children. We remind politicians that the sensitive subject of abortion is a devolved matter. On 10 February 2016, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted against legalising abortion in cases of life limiting conditions (sometimes called fatal foetal abnormality), or cases of rape, incest or indecent assault. The Assembly has spoken and the decision of the Court today does not change that."

Media enquiries

Danny Webster
Email: d.webster@eauk.org
Phone: 020 7520 3862
Mobile: 07766 444 650

Notes to editors

Peter Lynas, a former barrister will be available in and around the Supreme Court in London on Thursday 7 June. He can be contacted on 07899 898066.

About the Evangelical Alliance

We are the Evangelical Alliance. We join together hundreds of organisations, thousands of churches and tens of thousands of individuals for the sake of the gospel. Representing our members since 1846, the Evangelical Alliance is the oldest and largest evangelical unity movement in the UK.

We love Jesus and we want everyone in the UK to be given an opportunity to know Him.

We love His church, and we will do all we can to unite evangelicals, building confidence in the gospel and speaking as a trusted voice into society to see it changed for Him.

Working across the UK, with offices in London, Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast, our members come together from across denominations, locations, age groups and ethnicities, all sharing a passion to know Jesus and make Him known.