Abortion: Belfast court reserves judgement in landmark case

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The judicial review was held at the High Court in Belfast

Judgment has been reserved in a landmark legal bid to change Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

The judge said he realised a verdict would be eagerly anticipated, but the complex and emotive case required "mature reflection".

He added: "It will come as no surprise that I will not be making an immediate judgment on this case.

"The quality and quantity of the arguments has given me food for thought."

The judge told Belfast High Court: "I have not made up my mind."

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) is seeking to legalise abortion in cases of serious foetal malformation, rape and incest.

Unlike other parts of the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.

Termination of pregnancy is only permitted if a woman's life is at risk, or if there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

Anyone who unlawfully carries out an abortion could be jailed for life.

The department of justice (DOJ) has carried out a public consultation on changing the law to allow abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

However, the (NIHRC) has claimed the consultation paper, submitted to the Stormont Executive earlier this month, does not go far enough.

It said legal proceedings had been launched as a last resort.

The three-day judicial review hearing has included representations from the DOJ, the Catholic clergy and Sarah Ewart.

The 24-year-old woman's experience of having to travel to England for an abortion in 2013, shone a public spotlight on the issue of fatal foetal abnormality.