It falls to Conor O’Mahony to tell everyone to calm down re the decision of the High Court in Belfast as a presage of a law change in the south:
Beneath the hue and cry, things are much less clear cut. As a party to the ECHR, Ireland is bound by interpretations of the convention handed down by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. However, Ireland is not bound by interpretations of the convention handed down by national courts in other member states. A decision of the Northern Ireland High Court only directly affects Northern Ireland.
To date, the Strasbourg court has not found that there is a general right to abortion under the convention, or that a failure to allow abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality or rape violates the ECHR. In 2010, in A, B and C v Ireland, the court rejected an argument that Irish law violates the convention by failing to allow abortion on health or wellbeing grounds.
Translated: there’s quite a long way to go before the ruling leads to a change in the domestic law (which was the most explicit focus of Mr Justice Horner’s judicial activism).
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty