Ireland overwhelmingly voted to change their constitution‘s eighth amendment and legalize abortion just two weeks ago. That historic change has inspired many people in Northern-Ireland to do the same. Judges are now pointing out that Northern-Ireland‘s abortion law violates human rights as the law that forbids women to terminate their pregnancy, dates back to the 19th century. It is, therefore, incompatible with the right to respect for privacy and family life, as guaranteed by the European convention on human rights. Pressure has begun to grow on the government to reform Northern Ireland‘s restrictive abortion laws.

But although Supreme Court Judges have acknowledged that the law clashes with human rights, they rejected a challenge brought by the Northern-Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) on technical grounds, The Independent reports.

Abortion case: NIHRC is not a victim

Their reason for doing so was that the NIHRC did not have a "standing" to win the case in court, as it was not itself a victim, and therefore the court was unable to make a declaration of incompatibility. Currently, a termination is only permitted if a woman‘s life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent danger to her physical or mental health. The law does not, however, take into consideration pregnancy by rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality, which is when doctors determine if the unborn child has a life-threatening condition and will most likely die either in the womb or shortly after birth.

However, anti-abortion groups point out that doctors cannot possibly tell, as babies with life-threatening conditions have often defied the odds.

Many women can't travel to England, Wales or Scotland for abortion

Although the Irish had been divided on the issue before voting on changing the eighth amendment, it may be a bit more complicated for Northern-Ireland to change their laws.

Even if numerous opinion polls have shown that the majority of people in Northern-Ireland are in favour of change, so far, Northern-Ireland has blocked all efforts from London to liberalize its abortion law, The New York Times reports.

Women in Northern-Ireland who are faced with unwanted pregnancies have the option to travel to England, Wales or Scotland to have an abortion.

However, many simply cannot afford that trip and are therefore forced to take other drastic measures, making abortion pills an obvious alternative. Those pills are against the law, and those violating the laws could, in theory, be sentenced to life in prison. The Supreme court is expected to announce it‘s decision next Thursday, (June 14).