Women's News from the Web

Geena Davis announces 'Spellcheck for Bias' tool to redress gender imbalance in movies

Women's News from the Web - Wed, 10/09/2019 - 04:32

The actor’s Institute on Gender in Media has announced a new machine-learning tool, to be piloted by Disney, that can analyse scripts and reveal unconscious biases

Actor and equality campaigner Geena Davis has announced that Disney has adopted a digital tool that will analyse scripts and identify opportunities to rectify any gender and ethnic biases.

Davis, founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, was speaking at the Power of Inclusion event in New Zealand, where she outlined the development of GD-IQ: Spellcheck for Bias, a machine learning tool described as “an intervention tool to infuse diversity and inclusion in entertainment and media”. Developed by the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, the Spellcheck for Bias is designed to analyse a script and determine the percentages of characters’ “gender, race, LGBTQIA [and] disabilities”. It can also track the percentage of “non-gender-defined speaking characters”.

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Fool Me Twice: Actions Over Impeachment

Women's eNews - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 14:09

Well-earned celebrations must not eclipse our view of true victory for humanity and the planet.

Well, it’s finally happened, to the relief of a wide range of people, from Nancy Pelosi’s most vitriolic critics to her most loyal loyalists: the House is officially opening impeachment proceedings.

This matters. A lot. Terms have power, and a formal process under a single umbrella is a much clearer signal to this regime than the previous scattered and single-issue investigations could ever have been. And our emotional release is needed and justified. In the streets, in jail holding cells, in the public online spaces, and in back-office meetings, many have been struggling tirelessly for the last two years to get this, or something like it, off the ground. Even where I strongly disagree with some of my fellow anti-Trumpist activists in terms of direction or focus, I salute the conscience and dedication of all who’ve embraced this cause.

Nevertheless, we’re in a supremely perilous moment now and we’d be fools not to recognize it.

Part of the danger comes, of course, from our adversaries. Like any abusive personality, a fascist can be at their most vicious when they feel their control finally, possibly, beginning to slip. When their victim at last declares independence, the chances that they’re not going to make at least one treacherous bid to reestablish dominance are zero. And often enough, they succeed. So overconfidence on our part is unwarranted. We’ve already seen that there’s no level of barbarity to which they won’t descend—even and especially against the most vulnerable and nonthreatening of us—both in the US and across the world.

They will take hostages. The timing of the Trump regime’s assaults on prominent Democrats and their constituents — from the political “investigation” of Biden, to the threat to sweep the homeless of Pelosi’s and Schiff’s districts off the streets and disappear them off to who knows where — is not coincidental.

They will summon their more overtly supremacist supporters out from under their rocks to brownshirt for them. It’s not an accident that Pizzagate conspiracy theorist and Christian fascist culture warrior Sebastian Gorka is publicly traveling with Mike Pompeo right now.

But as bad as it would be not to prepare for betrayal from the cruel, it’s almost as bad not to account for our own fallibility as well as those of our allies. The Trump regime is carrying out crimes against humanity, and we must unite all who can be united to stop it from consolidating power.

Our Actions Matter More than the Motivations for Impeachment

I’m not interested in playing psychic here. We could argue forever about whether Pelosi, Schiff et al had some secret master plan all along that we were ingrates to ever ever doubt, or did this only with the greatest reluctance because enough people made it clear nothing less would be acceptable. It doesn’t matter all that much, frankly.

It only sort-of matters what their motivations are now—whether they mean to move forward boldly now and sacrifice for the country they swore to serve, or are just trying to run out the clock till the election.

It’s not that important because it doesn’t change our calculus in getting the result the world needs us to get. Do you think Mubarak’s generals were suddenly seized with enlightenment and remorse, when they turned on their dictator after the Tahrir Square protests in Cairo got too big to ignore or repress? Does anyone really care now what was in their hearts? No. Because the circumstances that the people of Egypt created forced them to do what was right either way. (The trouble came only when the people ceased their unified demand for justice, and their disarray allowed religious extremists to take over where military rule left off…there’s a crucial message to us in that as well, by the way. Even victory in removing one set of tyrants is not the final victory, though it’s a step you can hardly skip in the process!)

Personally, as a mainstream-ish Democrat, I view most of our party leaders as well-meaning but deeply imperfect human beings—just like most of us. They’re sitting in different, much plusher stadium seats, where they can perhaps see some things we don’t, but will completely miss other vital things we ordinary folk do see…if we don’t point them out with crystal clarity. Others among my Refuse Fascism colleagues see Democratic leadership as willing servants of the great machine of capitalist imperialism.

We can argue about that in between actions (preferably over coffee or drinks!) but it shouldn’t stop us from coming together to force our leaders to do what is right regardless of motivation.

If they’re legislators of conscience, they won’t hate us for standing up for justice—they’ll be grateful for our support and even our pressure, because they’ll view representing constituents as their duty. That means the thing to do is show them what their constituents want is what we all know is best for humanity: that Trump and Pence Must Go Now.

If they’re amoral careerists determined to hold onto their Capitol washroom keys, the thing to do is show them their only option for that is to meet the public’s implacable demand that Trump and Pence Must Go Now…and that the public really, really means the Now part. To make that happen, we have to become harder to deny than powerful, violent, corrupt, scheming Nazis. That’s a tall order, yes. But we’re a big country. Collectively we have more than strength enough to do it.

If they’re sadistic monsters, well, then they’ll be like Mubarak’s generals: they’ll obey, they’ll conciliate, they’ll betray the people…until they finally see that Trump and Pence are a sinking ship that all sane rats must abandon. At that point, though there may be a few so tightly bound that they do indeed decide to go down with the ship, the rest will suddenly have that attack of enlightenment and remorse—and pretend to have secretly agreed with us all along that Trump and Pence must go now.

Any of those will work for me.

Which story ends up being the true one is pertinent to the question of what kind of society we can rebuild after we’ve removed this fascist regime from power…but that question is moot if we can’t remove the regime. And whether our leaders are people of conscience or not, we can’t succumb to the temptation to leave it all up to them. Even the most heroic public servants know they can’t win without the unrelenting energy of the people as fuel and mandate. The worst? Won’t be convinced to turn on a despot until the people leave them no choice.

Whether you’re a liberal, a progressive, a socialist, a communist, a technocrat, or an apolitical, one fact remains: nobody can get their human needs met under a fascist system, except for fascists. There is no peace, no safe space, no rule of law, no loving kindness, no humanity under fascism. It is at its base a nihilistic, all-devouring creed that ultimately consumes even itself—but not before it’s consumed everything and everyone else it can. And it has more appeal than people of goodwill ever want to believe.

So our work from here is clear. We should celebrate our victories along the way, yes. But now would be the worst possible time to fold up the tents and become passive observers again. Everyone must decide for themselves whom they will or will not trust, but I would urge everyone with a hunger for justice to base their decisions on investigation of the danger this regime poses and what can actually stop it. Remember that you can’t wait for your hero, because in the end NOBODY can save a people who won’t save themselves.

And that it’s not just the American people who we will either save with our fierce love or damn with our foolish apathy, but many, many others besides.

In your heart, you already know these things to be true. All that’s left is to act on it.

About the author: Sarah Roark is graphic novelist and a member of the editorial board of RefuseFascism.org, which is launching weekly protests in October to demand, “Trump and Pence #OutNow!” Follow her on Twitter @afterdaylight.

Two-thirds of UK universities bring in sexual consent training – report

Women's News from the Web - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 13:01

Universities UK welcomes findings but says more work needed to prevent racial harassment

Universities in the UK have made progress in dealing with sexual harassment on campus, with nearly two-thirds introducing consent training for students, according to a survey of almost 100 institutions.

The research found that universities including Edinburgh, Kent, Durham, Oxford and Soas, University of London were conducting classes to train students in how to seek and recognise sexual consent. At some universities, the courses were mandatory in freshers’ week.

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Why do women fake orgasms – and is it anti-feminist? We asked five women

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 10/07/2019 - 19:00

Research suggests straight women who hold hostile views about feminism are more likely to fake it. We asked readers for their views

  • When and why have you faked an orgasm? Tell us here

Do you feel uncomfortable saying the word clitoris? Have you faked an orgasm recently? Are you a feminist? These may not seem related, but two recent academic studies linking societal attitudes to faking it suggest they are.

Related: My life in sex: the partner of a man with erectile dysfunction

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Vaginal fluid transplants could cure bacterial vaginosis

Women's News from the Web - Mon, 10/07/2019 - 05:00

Study finds new treatment for BV, which affects up to a third of reproductive-age women

Transplanting vaginal fluids from one woman to another could help tackle severe cases of a common bacterial condition, a study has suggested.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is thought to affect up to a third of women of reproductive age. It is caused when the balance of microbes in the vagina – known as the vaginal microbiome – becomes disturbed, with a drop in lactobacilli while other bacteria take over.

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The 12-week pregnancy rule makes the pain of miscarriage worse | Katy Lindemann

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 10/06/2019 - 21:00

The secrecy around early pregnancy means that many women grieve in private, weighed down by feelings of guilt and failure

Most of us will be familiar with the “12-week” rule – the longstanding social convention that dictates that women mustn’t tell anyone they’re pregnant before the 12-week mark, “in case something happens”. It’s time to talk about the insidious effect it has on women who suffer a miscarriage early in their pregnancy.

An estimated 650 babies are miscarried every day in the UK, with the vast majority occurring during the first trimester. Most of these losses will be suffered in silence, because it’s considered so socially unacceptable to reveal that you’re pregnant before 12 weeks – let alone that you were pregnant, but now you’re not. It’s baffling that in 2019 we seem so wedded to an anachronistic superstition about tempting fate that shames women into keeping quiet and heaps blame on the woman who dares to “tell” and subsequently loses her baby – as though we were still in a bygone era where the stigma of miscarrying could mark you out as cursed. Social mores around the 12-week rule are brimming with contradictions: it’s fine to broadcast the minutiae of our daily lives on Instagram, yet disclosing that we’re pregnant, even just to close friends and family, is somehow transgressive.

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The Guardian view on women’s pensions: a feminist issue | Editorial

Women's News from the Web - Sun, 10/06/2019 - 07:30
A court ruled against the BackTo60 group last week. But the 1950s-born activists’ fight against injustice goes on

Some means must be found to ease the hardship faced by the 1950s-born women worst affected by pension age changes. Last week the high court rejected the arguments in a judicial review brought by the campaign group BackTo60. The group argued that changes to the law in 1995 and 2011 were discriminatory on grounds of sex and age, and that 3.8 million women should be compensated. But while last Thursday’s loss was a setback, the campaign is far from over. An appeal is one possibility. Continuing pressure on politicians – including the prime minister, who pledged during his leadership campaign to take a fresh look at the sums – is a certainty.

The principle of pension age equalisation is not contested. Neither the BackTo60 group (despite its name) nor Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) believes that changes to the law should be reversed so that women continue to receive state pensions at a younger age than men. Equalisation has been the work of several governments, with a crucial landmark passed last year when 65-year-old women became the first to qualify at the same age as men.

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Book Excerpt: Unlocking the Power of Fatherhood

Women's eNews - Sun, 10/06/2019 - 04:11

It’s not uncommon these days to hear the terms “fatherless generation,” “toxic masculinity,” and “boys will be boys.” Many are trying to redefine manhood and discredit masculinity in a misguided attempt to resolve our problems. In his upcoming book, Unlocking the Power of Fatherhood, author Gary D. Rogers shares his own rich life experiences and the lessons he has learned along the way, which have all blended to forge a unique mission: to inspire authenticity in men, to equip them with workable life skills and perspectives, and to empower a healthy culture of fatherhood.

A blueprint for embracing the positive essence of fatherhood, it is a powerful guide for men to achieve a successful life by confronting the unfairness of society, recognizing the lessons of failure, and discovering the value in life’s difficulties:

CHAPTER 2 (pp. 68-75)

THE ROLE OF MY FATHER
In the years since that stormy night, I have weathered difficult times, always drawing sustenance from the man who had been in the boat with me. His unwavering character lived on in my heart long after he was gone. Billy Ray remained my standard against which all my decisions were measured. With him, there was right and there was wrong. That which was true yesterday was true today. He always stood for the right, no matter what it cost him. This quality defined him as a man of character and garnered the respect of all who knew him.
To me he was a tree, not an anchor. He was unmovable, an unchangeable standard. On those difficult nights in my home office as my business was crumbling and I was faced with difficult decisions, I could always find one of his principles to guide me. The consequences of decisions made were not always pleasant, but the decision was the right one to make. In the aftermath of those choices, I could always take solace in the person I had become.
It is because of his guidance that I have come to like who I am as a man. And when my difficult decisions are based on his tested principles, things invariably turn out well.
Billy Ray was joined in life by a remarkable woman who saw through his limp and what he called his “bum leg.” She saw a man who knew what it was to be a man—someone on whom she could depend. Someone worthy, in whom to invest her tremendous capacity to love. Together they created the culture of fatherhood in our home for my brother[…]”

“We learned the value of correction in an atmosphere of love. We were never shocked or had the rug pulled out from under us. Things were predictable, and the high standards never changed. It was a remarkable upbringing. I understand how incredibly blessed I am to have had such a home as this, even though my time with my father was too short. I wish everyone was blessed to have such a good model to follow, but I know it is not so. That understanding is the impetus for writing this book. I believe that regardless of our backgrounds, we all have the ability to choose the standard of truth as a guiding principle of our lives.
For the first twenty-seven years of my life, I saw firsthand what it was to be a man. My father’s purpose was to teach me how to think and how to weigh decisions against standards and truth. As I grew older, I learned to make good decisions through the challenging conversations he initiated. By this process, he taught me to think like a man of character and ultimately choose what was right. He questioned me using concepts that were very natural for him. Concepts like:

If it were you, would you want to be treated that way?
Is that the kind of person you want to be?
Is that what you said you would do?


These were not rhetorical questions; he expected me to really think about and answer them. Then there was my personal favorite…or sometimes my least favorite:
Can’t never could do anything.
This is a concept that means that you will never overcome if you tell yourself that you are incapable of conquering life’s difficult challenges. It is a powerful statement meant to establish the inner strength one needs to achieve their purpose.
The last one was far too difficult to ignore. Picture, if you will, a baby learning to walk. Stumbling into his parents’ arms with a grin on his face and two good legs beneath him. Now picture my dad, his right leg with the muscles taken by polio, learning to use it as a crutch. Picture that baby and all the times he fell and then got up again. A boy who would never quit until he learned to walk. This was the way he tackled each of life’s challenges. He would simply keep going no matter the hardship, and in the end, he would overcome.
Now try to imagine ignoring him when he says, Can’t never could do anything. To him things were simple. Are you going to say, “I can’t walk, I have a bum leg.” Or, are you going to be the person who says, “I have one good leg; that’s all I need.”

Excerpt From: Gary D. Rogers. “Unlocking the Power of Fatherhood.” iBooks.

About the Author:

Gary Rogers was born and grew to adulthood in the Texas Gulf Coast town of Freeport Texas. He is currently working as a consultant to industries that use large quantities of water, assisting them to effectively utilize water resources and minimize the impact of operations on the environment. Rogers has a loving wife of 44 years, three children and one rather precocious grandson. Gary seeks to utilize his writing to share the valuable life lessons they taught. To connect with the author, please visit his website www.garydrogers.com.

‘The doctors in Northern Ireland knew my baby would die. But I was refused an abortion’

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 10/05/2019 - 22:45

One grieving woman tells of the suffering the current ban caused her

Denise Phelan was denied an abortion three years ago in circumstances so extreme she still finds it harrowing to speak about it, and does so only because she is determined that no other woman should be forced to go through a similar experience.

“My anger wakes me up at night. It’s a deep, almost in-the-bone anger,” she says. She and her husband, Richard Gosnold, are also still grieving for the loss of their baby, Alenja. Their trauma has been prolonged and they feel it is too late now to try for another pregnancy.

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Pensions scandal: broken promises, cruelty and contempt

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 10/05/2019 - 21:07
Despite the setback in the courts, few would dispute the injustice faced by those 1950s women who have lost six years of benefits

Last week, in a landmark case, the high court decided that almost four million women born in the 1950s would not be compensated for the money they lost – for some individuals up to £40,000 – when the female pension age was raised from 60 to 66.

Julie Delve, 61, and Karen Glynn, 63, from the campaign group BackTo60, challenged the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with a judicial review, arguing that raising their pension age “unlawfully discriminated against them on the grounds of age, sex and age and sex combined”. Previously, women could claim a state pension at 60, men at 65 (by 2020 both men and women will receive their pension at 66). Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice Whipple dismissed the claim, saying there was no discrimination as the decision did not treat women less favourably than men but corrected a historic discrimination against men.

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Is architecture at last breaking through its own glass ceiling? | Rowan Moore

Women's News from the Web - Sat, 10/05/2019 - 08:00

A welcome gold award, and now the RIBA has begun to recognise that what matters is the team

Some kind of congratulations are due to the Royal Institute of British Architects for choosing as this year’s winners of the royal gold medal for architecture the Irish practice Grafton. For Grafton Architects is run by two women, Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell, which means that for the second time since Queen Victoria awarded the first such medal in 1848, it has gone outright to members of the same sex as the late queen-empress. On two other occasions, women have won the prize together with their husband-colleagues.

This year, the RIBA could hardly have done otherwise, given a campaign by an action group called Part W to highlight the scarcity of women among the winners of the gold medal and the world’s other top awards for architecture. It is flabbergasting that this conversation still has to be had now, in 2019. Still, baby steps. The choice of Grafton can’t be faulted, either – they are outstanding architects.

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A newborn baby’s death proves pregnant women are not safe in UK prisons | Joan Smith

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 10/04/2019 - 21:00

The tragedy that took place in HMP Bronzefield is like something out of a Victorian novel. Why are such vulnerable women being abandoned?

How could this happen in 21st-century Britain? A woman has reportedly given birth alone in a prison cell, in the early hours of the morning. It is alleged that help wasn’t summoned until 8.30am, when prison staff visited the cell and found the newborn “unresponsive” – the baby died. This shocking event, which sounds like something out of a Victorian novel, happened just over a week ago in Europe’s largest female prison.

No matter what that woman was in prison for, she and her unborn child desperately needed medical treatment

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Supreme court likely to rule on Louisiana abortion case months before 2020 election

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 10/04/2019 - 06:45

Louisiana law is virtually identical to a Texas law court struck down in 2016, before Trump’s two high court picks took the bench

The US supreme court will hear a challenge to a Louisiana abortion restriction, which could have broad implications for women’s reproductive freedom. The case is likely to be decided just four months before the 2020 presidential election.

The Louisiana restriction requires doctors at the state’s three remaining abortion clinics to seek admitting privileges to local hospital emergency departments.

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Baby dies in UK prison after inmate 'gives birth alone in cell'

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 10/04/2019 - 01:12

Police investigate unexplained death at Bronzefield women’s prison in Surrey

Police are investigating the death of a baby in Britain’s largest female prison after an inmate gave birth alone in her cell at night.

The Guardian understands that the woman, who had been at an advanced stage of pregnancy, gave birth alone in her cell in the early hours of Friday last week. A source with knowledge of the events said that when prison staff visited the woman’s cell on Friday morning the baby was unresponsive.

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Turkey says Rebel Girls children's book should be treated like porn

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 10/04/2019 - 01:04

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls must only be sold to adults, government says

Turkey has ruled that the million-selling book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls should be partially banned and treated like pornography because it could have a “detrimental influence” on young people.

The book, which has been published in 47 languages, offers a series of inspiring stories about women from history for young children. But in a decision published last week, the Turkish government’s board for the protection of minors from obscene publications said: “Some of the writings in the book will have a detrimental influence on the minds of those under the age of 18.”

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Why are female cyclists targeted by aggressive drivers for abuse?

Women's News from the Web - Fri, 10/04/2019 - 00:09

By being on the road, women seem to be transgressing a boundary that some men find intolerable

I commute in London by bike. Run-ins with aggressive drivers are as much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth. Recently though, I’ve started to wonder whether there is a distinctly gendered dimension to the frequency and intensity with which I am shouted, sworn and honked at.

When I talk to friends who cycle, I’m struck by the instant recognition of this phenomenon by fellow women, who are quick to share their stories. Sometimes the abuse is explicitly sexual, more often it’s simply aggressive and unpleasant, or merely patronising. Almost without exception, it’s perpetrated by men.

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Breast cancer deaths almost halved since 1989, UK figures show

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 10/03/2019 - 19:00

Research suggests more than 130,000 deaths from disease have been avoided in 30 years

The death rate for women with breast cancer in the UK has dropped by 44% over the past 30 years, according to new figures.

Analysis by Cancer Research UK suggests that more than 130,000 UK breast cancer deaths have been avoided in the last three decades.

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Julie Delpy 'refused' to be in Before Midnight without equal pay

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 10/03/2019 - 07:02

French actor and director says she insisted on being paid the same as co-star Ethan Hawke in romantic drama

The French actor and director Julie Delpy has revealed that she refused to make Before Midnight, the third in the celebrated romantic drama “Before” trilogy, unless she received the same pay as her co-star Ethan Hawke.

In an interview with Variety, Delpy said that for the first film in the series, 1995’s Before Sunrise, she was paid “about a 10th” of Hawke’s fee, and for the second, Before Sunset, released in 2004, she received half of what Hawke was paid. For the final 2013 film, Before Midnight, which earned her a nomination for a best screenplay Oscar along with Hawke and the film’s director, Richard Linklater, she says she insisted on pay parity. “I said: ‘Listen guys, if I am not paid the same, I am not doing it.’”

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This brutal judgment on pensions is blind to the reality of older women’s lives | Polly Toynbee

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 10/03/2019 - 04:52

The sweeping decisions made by politicians about retirement age ignore the harsh consequences for millions of women

Equality for women is not always a victory. Women and men’s entitlement to a state pension was equalised by law back in 1995, so women retire at 65 now, at 66 next year – just the same as men. Sounds fair? Not to women born in the 1950s whose lives were hard work and slim savings, with no chance to build up pensions: they expected to retire at 60 and draw their state pension.

BackTo60 took their case to court for compensation and today they lost. BackTo60 and Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) are implacable campaigners for the pension rights of nearly 4 million women born in the 1950s. Waspi turn up at every political event and tail each Department for Work and Pensions secretary relentlessly to protest about pension changes that left many in penury. Politicians groan inwardly when they see them coming, but these women never give up.

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Northern Ireland abortion law ruled to breach human rights

Women's News from the Web - Thu, 10/03/2019 - 04:31

High court in Belfast rules against Northern Ireland’s strict abortion law

Northern Ireland’s near-blanket abortion ban breaches the UK’s human rights commitments, the high court in Belfast has ruled.

The decision, on Thursday, was made following a case brought by Sarah Ewart, 29, who was denied a termination in 2013 despite a scan showing the foetus she was carrying would not survive.

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