Delay to Northern Ireland abortion challenge

A legal challenge to the unilateral imposition of abortion on Northern Ireland by the British Government has been unexpectedly adjourned, mid-hearing, and postponed until January.

The case alleges the Secretary of State lacks the authority to advance an abortion agenda without the cooperation of Ministers in the devolved institutions.

The unexpected development last week on what was supposed to be the second day of oral submissions before the Court of Appeal.

On day one of the case, John Larkin, SPUC’s senior counsel, drew the Court’s attention to the wording used in Section 9 of the 2019 law that decriminalised abortion in the Province and showed that the power conferred on the Secretary of State was, in fact, much more limited than the Government believed.

Mr Larkin’s argument appeared to take the Secretary of State’s legal team completely by surprise so, on Wednesday morning, they asked for more time to consider how they might respond to it. The Court granted an adjournment and decided not to move forward with the rest of the case until January.