File image: Fotolia

London - A woman in Northern Ireland won a landmark challenge to the territory's strict abortion law on Thursday, in a case hailed by human rights activists as a "huge victory".

Northern Ireland's High Court ruled that the current law breached the human rights of Sarah Ewart, 29, who travelled to England for an abortion in 2013.

Ewart was refused an abortion in Northern Ireland despite doctors advising her that they expected her child to die in the womb or shortly after birth.

"In my view her personal testimony is compelling," Judge Siobhan Keegan said.

Keegan ruled that Northern Ireland's abortion law is incompatible with provisions on fatal foetal abnormality in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Darragh Mackin, a lawyer for Ewart, tweeted that the ruling was "a huge victory" for her and women's rights campaigner Grainne Teggart.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland director, said he was "delighted with this judgment."

"[It] supports what @AmnestyUK has said from the start - NI's draconian abortion laws are a breach of human rights," Corrigan tweeted.

Calls have grown for Northern Ireland's devolved government to loosen the territory's abortion law after a successful campaign to change Ireland's similarly restrictive law via a referendum last year.

Changes to the abortion law could be enacted this month if Northern Ireland's main political parties fail to resume power sharing.

British lawmakers voted in July for wider abortion rights and same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, if the territory cannot reconvene its devolved assembly by October 21.