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BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — A Belfast judge has ruled that Northern Ireland’s government should ease restrictions on abortion because the prevailing law denies women the right to end pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

High Court Justice Mark Horner said politicians should pass a law permitting abortions involving fatal fetal abnormalities and sexual crimes. He said outlawing such terminations violated European human rights statues.

But his ruling Wednesday stopped short of declaring such abortions legal outright in Northern Ireland, the only corner of the United Kingdom yet to legalize the practice.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which sued the government in hopes of forcing abortion reform, welcomed the judgment. The government, a coalition of Irish Catholics and British Protestants, opposes easing abortion restrictions and has six weeks to appeal the ruling.