Human rights watchdog to intervene in Northern Ireland abortion safe access zones case
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) has been granted leave to intervene in the UK Supreme Court case concerning the introduction of safe access zones around abortion clinics in Northern Ireland.
The Attorney General for Northern Ireland has asked the court to look at whether the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Northern Ireland) Bill is incompatible with human rights legislation, and therefore beyond the legislative competency of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
NIHRC’s intervention to the court will be heard today, while the judgment is expected to be handed down in the coming months.
Chief commissioner Alyson Kilpatrick said: “The Commission welcomes the opportunity to intervene in this referral to the UK Supreme Court. In March we welcomed the passing of the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Northern Ireland) Bill by the Northern Ireland Assembly.
“We are aware of, and have spoken to many women, who have been deeply distressed and adversely impacted by protests outside of health and social care facilities.
“We believe the bill helps protect the Article 8 (right to private and family life) rights of those women and girls accessing abortion services, as well as the staff providing them.
“As there is no current legislation in place, we wish to see this bill enacted as a matter of urgency.”