Northern Ireland

Abortion law in Northern Ireland: An evolving story

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Things in Northern Ireland can change pretty quickly.

And that's what has happened around abortion law in Northern Ireland.

On Thursday, Belfast's Court of Appeal overturned the 2015 judgement that the current law was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

By 14:00 BST, the government announced it will fund abortions for women from Northern Ireland in England for free.

Evolving story

That overturns a court ruling made earlier this month which rejected an appeal by a mother and daughter in their legal battle for women from Northern Ireland to receive free abortions on the NHS in England.

It is a story that continues to evolve.

Back to Thursday's case, and it was Stormont's Department of Justice and Northern Ireland's Attorney General who had brought the appeal against the 2015 judgement.

Overturning that ruling is significant.

Again it demonstrates how the public, charities, families even the courts have difficulty reaching a decision and even interpreting the local abortion law.

'Mixed day'

Overthrowing the previous ruling came as a shock to Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International.

While they had claimed victory in 2015 for moving the local abortion story closer in line with the rest of the UK - on Thursday all that was undone.

Meanwhile, as anti-abortion campaigners were celebrating at that decision - their feelings quickly turned to absolute dismay and disbelief as the news emerged from Westminster.

It's safe to say that this is a mixed day for Northern Ireland's abortion campaigners - on both sides of the argument.

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