Northern Ireland can ban pro-life activism near abortion clinics, UK Supreme Court says
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Britain’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Northern Ireland is allowed to ban anti-abortion demonstrations and prayer vigils outside abortion clinics, the Christian Post (CP) reports.
The United Kingdom’s highest court said the restrictions did not constitute a violation of the freedom to assemble.
The case arose after Northern Ireland in March passed an “Abortion Safe Access” bill banning pro-life activism within buffer zones created around abortion clinics, CP reports. Concerns were raised that clause 5(2)(a) of the bill, which bans even silent prayer, may constitute a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The office of the Attorney General of Northern Ireland asked the UK Supreme Court to rule on the matter, and the court determined unanimously that the rights of pro-life activists are not violated by the bill, CP reports.
In a written ruling on behalf of the Supreme Court, its President Robert John Reed said the law “can be justified” because it “pursues a legitimate aim,” CP reports.
“It seeks to ensure that women have access to advice and treatment related to the lawful termination of a pregnancy under conditions which respect their privacy and dignity and are not driven instead to less safe alternatives,” the ruling says.
“It is also designed to enable staff who work at hospitals and clinics where terminations are available to attend their place of work without being intimidated, harassed, or abused.”
In particular, the Court determined the buffer zones around clinics are “rational and necessary,” striking “a fair balance between competing rights,” CP reports. Pro-life activists “are free to protest anywhere else they please,” the Court noted.