data Secretary of Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis failed to meet his obligations to provide comprehensive abortion services in the region, a judge in the Haute Court has ruled.
The ruling will put pressure on the Westminster government to remedy the situation in Northern Ireland, where women are struggling to access health services. 'safe abortion more than 18 months after legalization of the procedure in the country.
Judging the case, Judge Colton said that between April 2020 and March 2021, the Secretary of State failed to fulfill his obligations under Article 9 of the Northern Ireland Executive Training Act 2019 because it "failed to ensure that the state provides women with access to high-quality abortion and post-abortion care in all public facilities in the city. 'Northern Ireland'.
But he stopped before issuing an order requiring Lewis to establish a tible for the provision of the services. The judicial review was brought by a woman who was askedto travel to England for an abortion during the pandemic lockdown on behalf of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC). Claims against the Department of Northern Ireland of Health and the executive were fired.
Experts have warned that women are still forced to use unregulated services and travel to England and Ireland, including during the pandemic.
Abortion has been decriminalized in Northern Ireland in October 2019 after a vote in Westminster led by Labor MP Stella Creasy took advantage of a crippled Stormont, despite an 11-hour attempt to the assembly of the region ofe block change. But since then the Northern Ireland Department of Health has neither commissioned nor funded any services. Some trusts have attempted to provide a service without funding or commissioned framework, with some areas relying on a single clinician.
Following the decision Creasy said that the politicians who had "dragged their feet " in providing a legal abortion had to act.
"Today the High Court told them that was enough. The Secretary of State must now urgently explain how he intends to comply with the law, prevent those who oppose it from denying the provision through bureaucratic obstacles and defend the human rights of women in Northern Ireland, ”she said.
After court proceedings began earlier this year, Lewis formally ordered Stormont to put in service the services before the end of the month of Marchs 2022, but the NIHRC says the situation has not improved.
The Western Trust, which covers Derry, has not provided service since June, with the judge noting Thursday that women in Northern Ireland faced a postcode lottery if they sought an abortion.
Making his ruling at Belfast High Court on Thursday, Colton said: “Those who hold public office, including the judiciary, must obey and apply the law. It should not be necessary for a court to order something by judicial review in circumstances where persons in public office are not ready to comply with their legal obligations because they are not required to do so. 'agreement with the applicable law.
NIHRC Chief Commissioner Alyson Kilpatrick welcomed the judgment, saying it was vital to defend the human rights of women and men.women and girls in Northern Ireland.
Kilpatrick said the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw ) report had revealed that the rights of women and girls in Northern Ireland were being violated and said she hoped the judgment would force the Northern Ireland Department of Health to take action.
"As different parts of government argue over who is responsible, women and girls continue to have to travel to England to access abortion services, are forced to continue a pregnancy against their will or to take unregulated abortion pills, "she said. "These are decisions women and girls shouldn't have to make in 2021. It 's not just a legal argument, it affects real people every day.
Le Guardian has contacted the Northern Ireland office for comment.