Northern Irish women fighting for NHS abortions launch Strasbourg crowdfunding campaign

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By Katie King on

Taking Supreme Court defeat in their stride

European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France

The Northern Irish abortion case claimants, who believe women should be entitled to free abortions in England, have launched a crowdfunding campaign to get to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Fresh from Supreme Court defeat, claimants A and B hope to convince the ECtHR the government is in breach of article 8 (family life) and article 14 (no discrimination) because it doesn’t allow Northern Irish women abortions on the NHS.

A, a Northern Irish woman who fell pregnant aged 15, and B, her mother, will no doubt be hoping the Strasbourg court is more open to its arguments than the five-bench Supreme Court was — even if just a little bit.

Earlier this month, the highest court in the country ruled by a slim majority (3:2) in favour of the respondent government. While Lords Wilson, Reed and Hughes dismissed the appeal, Lady Hale and Lord Kerr would have allowed it. Moments later, the claimants said they intended to appeal.

Using website CrowdJustice, the unsuccessful claimants hope to raise £12,000 to cover the initial legal costs of making an ECtHR application. In the meantime, their legal team (Simpson Millar) is preparing a case at reduced hourly rates.

The claimants — who are represented by law firm partner Angela Jackman and barristers Stephen Cragg QC and Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC — have said:

We are really encouraged that two of the judges found in our favour and all the judges were sympathetic to A’s situation. We have come this far and fought hard because the issues are so important for women in Northern Ireland. For this reason, we will do all we can to take the fight further.

Joanna Sidhu, CrowdJustice, told us:

Four years ago A and B, a daughter and her mother, made the brave decision to bring a judicial review challenging the discrimination Northern Irish women face in being denied free abortion services in England. Today, in launching their crowdfunding campaign on CrowdJustice, men and women across the UK have the opportunity to come together to support A and B.

At the time of publication the campaign has raised £1,070, but let’s see whether A and B will have as much success as the claimant in today’s other big CrowdJustice story.

Legal Cheek reported just hours ago Jolyon Maugham QC, a Devereux Chambers silk, has raised over £100,000 towards his value-added tax-themed legal challenge against Uber. According to legal documents filed with the High Court earlier this month, the tax silk received around 3,400 separate donations, with an average contribution of just under £32. Will the public dig as deep into their pockets for CrowdJustice’s latest campaign?


I got in trouble for arguing with a pro-life campaigner at school, now I’m a barrister in the Northern Irish abortion law case [Legal Cheek]

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