Irish court rules on rights of 'unborn'

Irish court rules on rights of 'unborn'

Irish court rules on rights of 'unborn'

National Women's Council of Ireland, Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, and Abortion Rights Campaign say they are leading a "broad-based national civil society campaign to remove the Eighth Amendment".

"The Court has made it clear that unborn babies, up to birth, would have no constitutional protection against the legislation that the Government intends to introduce".

And Minister Simon Harris said after the ruling: "Now we can get on with allowing the people of Ireland have their say in a referendum this May".

"It is, therefore, a great irony that we in Ireland are for the first time in our history losing our clarity about the right to life of the unborn", the bishops' statement said.

Speaking this morning the Minister said "this Bill will contain the wording to be put to the people in a referendum at the end of May".

Terminations may only be carried out if doctors decide that a woman's life is at risk because of medical complications, or if she is in danger of killing herself.

However, the Supreme Court did uphold the High Court finding that the Minister for Justice is required to consider the prospective constitutional rights of an unborn child in cases where their non-Irish parent may be deported.

Chief Justice Clarke said: "While it does not alter the outcome of this case, the minister is accordingly not obliged to treat the unborn as having constitutional rights other than the rights contained in Article 40.3.3".

But he said it had been possible to reach a consensus on the issue and the decision of the seven-judge court was unanimous.

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Ireland now has some of the most robust protections for the unborn in the European Union, although most European abortion laws are more restrictive than those in the United States.

Labour Party TD Jan O'Sullivan welcomed the clarity provided by the ruling.

At the moment, the Eighth Amendment of the Irish constitution, introduced in 1983, equates the life of the unborn with that of the mother.

The proposed wording of the question may have had to change, the referendum be delayed and it could have resulted in further legal challenges.

"Article 40.3.3 is a declaration of equality and respect for human life".

A public vote on whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, which prohibits abortions in nearly all cases, is expected to be held in May.

"The judgement paves the way for a referendum on the Eighth Amendment and will hopefully allow the Government to bring the referendum bill to the Dail this week".

"I look forward to engaging in the debate with my Oireachtas colleagues, and would again call on the Government to ensure it keeps to its timetable of a May referendum on the Eighth Amendment so that the maximum number of people will be available to vote on the issue, many for the first time". And that we have a full day sitting on Friday to advance the legislation?

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